Court Issues New Political Maps For Texas
By KERA News & Wire Services
Dallas, TX – A federal court has issued new Texas political maps for the 2012 election.
Every 10 years lawmakers redraw districts to reflect changes in the U.S. census, but minority groups have mounted a legal challenge to the redistricting maps drawn by the Legislature. So a federal court had to draft temporary maps for 2012.
The maps released on Thursday for the state Senate and House give minorities a better chance of electing their choice of candidate in some areas than did the maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature. That's believed to give Democrats a better chance of winning seats.
Republican leaders said the districts were drawn to benefit their party, not hurt minority representation. The attorney general is still fighting for the original maps passed by the Legislature.
Soldier pleads not guilty to bomb plot charges
A soldier accused of plotting to blow up a restaurant full of soldiers near Fort Hood has pleaded not guilty to six new charges.
Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo answered "sure do" Thursday when a federal judge in Waco asked if he understood the charges.
He was arrested in July near Fort Hood. Prosecutors say he had gone AWOL from Kentucky's Fort Campbell and was plotting to detonate two bombs in a restaurant full of Fort Hood servicemen and to shoot anyone who survived.
Abdo was indicted on three charges in August and six others last week, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. That charge carries a maximum life sentence.
Prosecutors say they plan to try Abdo on the new charges first.
Retail gasoline prices down 4 cents across Texas
Retails gasoline prices in Texas and nationwide have declined this week.
AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump statewide was $3.22 a gallon, or 4 cents less than last week.
The national average price for gasoline dropped a nickel, to settle at $3.39 per gallon.
The association says Amarillo has the most expensive gasoline in Texas this week, topping off at $3.26 a gallon. The least expensive gasoline statewide is in Corpus Christi, selling for $3.11 per gallon.
AAA Texas says the current average retail gasoline price is 50 cents more than what motorists were paying a year ago.
Dallas man found, charged in child's fatal beating
A Dallas man accused of kidnapping two children and beating a third to death has been arrested after an Amber Alert.
Christopher Garcia was being held in the Dallas County Jail Thursday on $1 million bail, following his Wednesday night arrest. The 24-year-old was charged with injury to a child in the fatal beating of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son earlier in the week.
Authorities say he does not yet have an attorney.
Police say Garcia abducted his 8-month-old daughter and a 4-year-old boy Wednesday, triggering the Amber Alert. The children were later found unharmed.
Police say Garcia jumped from an apartment window to escape. The Dallas Morning News reports that when Garcia turned toward pursuing officers, police thought he was armed and shot him. No one else was injured.
DFW Cabbies Win CNG Preference Battle
A Dallas County Judge has thrown out DFW Airport's plan to put natural gas-powered taxis at the front of the line to pick up passengers.
Kelly Hollingworth, attorney for the Association of Taxicab Operators, says the final ruling found that the Airport Board exceeded its state-granted authority when it gave preference to CNG cabs. So, the resolution is void.
Hollingsworth: The justifications that the Airport Board used in passing that resolution all related to regional environmental policy. And the Texas Transportation code gives only a more limited amount of authority to the Airport Board.
CNG cabs have had "front-of-the-line preference at Dallas Love Field for more than a year. A trial in that case is set for March.
Smucker recalls jars of chunky peanut butter
J.M. Smucker Co. is recalling thousands of 16-ounce jars of its Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter Chunky because of possible salmonella contamination.
The Ohio-based company says the jars covered in the recall would have been purchased in the last week or so. They have "Best if Used By" dates of Aug. 3, 2012 and Aug. 4, 2012, plus the production codes 1307004 and 1308004.
Smucker says 3,000 jars are being recalled from stores. Another 16,000 had never left warehouses.
Salmonella is bacteria resulting in fever, cramps and diarrhea that lasts for several days and can require hospitalization.
Smucker says no illnesses have been reported.
The product was distributed in: Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
Perry picks fight with Pelosi
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's running for president, is picking a fight with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who's not.
Perry, who is struggling to steady his bid for the GOP nomination, launched an outsider's campaign against Washington culture this week and on Thursday challenged Pelosi to debate his plan to overhaul Congress.
She declined the offer, then mocked Perry's forgetful moment in a recent candidates' debate.
Pelosi said: "I'm going to be in Portland in the morning. I'm going to be visiting some of our labs in California in the afternoon. That's two. I can't remember what the third thing is I'm going to be doing."
In the debate, Perry couldn't remember the third of three federal departments he wants to eliminate.
Suspects in Texas prosecution ring re-arraigned
Several suspects accused of forcing women into prostitution in West Texas are facing more serious charges in the case.
Seven of the 10 people linked to the ring will be re-arraigned Thursday in El Paso, more than a month after they were arrested in Baltimore and extradited to Texas. A grand jury returned a superseding indictment in the case last week.
The suspects are charged with sex trafficking induced by force, fraud or coercion and conspiracy to transport for prostitution. One of them has already been re-arraigned and two others remain in Baltimore.
Authorities say Alarcon Wiggins, a self-proclaimed recording artist, used his ties to the music industry to entice women to move to El Paso and force them into his prostitution scheme.