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Texas Is Battling Oklahoma Over Ownership Of 10 Tiny Bibles Launched Into Space In The '70s

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Texas wants those lunar Bibles back; Dallas police is short-staffed; who really writes the bills in the lege?; and more.

Texas and Oklahoma are disputing the rightful ownership of 10 microfilm Bibles that were, along with astronauts, launched into space more than 45 years ago. Eight of the 10 landed on the surface of the moon during NASA's Apollo 14 mission in 1971, carried in a pouch by astronaut Edgar Mitchell. Bringing the Bibles to space was the idea of the Apollo Prayer League, which formed in the late ‘60s and was co-founded by the late NASA chaplain John M. Stout. After the mission, Stout gave away some Bibles and stowed the rest in his Texas apartment.

As The Associated Press reports, the “first lunar Bibles” now reside at the Tulsa County courthouse. There’s a hearing set for May 3 to determine who owns them — Texas or Carol Mersch of Tulsa, who befriended Stout in 2009 while working on a book about attempts to land a Bible on the moon. She claims Stout gave her the Bibles and has a certificate signed by Stout and Mitchell. Texas attorneys argue that Stout’s son Jonathan should inherit the Bibles. Stout and his wife, now both deceased, became wards of the state in their old age, and their son raised concerns about their health. [AP]

  • The number of Dallas police officers is at its lowest level in a decade. Interim Chief David Pughes told a city council committee on Monday that the number of officers on the force is 3,077 — down from nearly 3,700 officers some six years ago. He says the department will be short-staffed as the summer approaches and crime generally increases. The Dallas Morning News reports that concerns over the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System have led many officers to retire at a rate faster than the department can hire and train new ones. [The Dallas Morning News, AP]


  • Who actually writes the bills that Texas legislators sponsor? As part of Texas Decides, listener Brian Forget asked the question and KERA’s Rachel Osier Lindley answered it. Only a member of the Texas Legislature can file a bill. Technically, the term “author” refers the person who files legislation and shepherds it through the lawmaking process. When it comes to the actual wording of bills, legislators don’t go it alone. Read the full answer and then ask your own question. [Texas Station Collaborative]


  • A young mezzo-soprano with the Fort Worth Opera is performing a world-premiere role. Actually, Anna Laurenzo is taking on nine roles in “Voir Dire” through May 6. The new production is like an “operatic version of ‘Law and Order,’” according to Art&Seek.As a mezzo-soprano, Laurenzo’s opportunity to sing the standout aria as a battered young woman is rare. “Mezzos typically have lower, warmer voices — and they typically get smaller roles, like playing the young boys in Mozart’s operas.” Learn more in the Artist Spotlight. [Art&Seek]


  • NPR will lose a familiar voice of All Things Considered early next year: Robert Siegel. The longtime newscaster will step down from his position in January 2018, after more than 40 years with NPR. “He joined NPR as a newscaster, moved into an editor role, opened NPR's London bureau, and as chief of NPR News ran the newsroom. And he accomplished all this before he took over at All Things Considered in 1987. As an ATC host, Robert reported from every corner of the country and around the world.” Siegel says the decision wasn’t easy. [NPR]

The High Five is KERA's daily roundup of news stories from Dallas-Fort Worth and across the state. Explore our archives here. And sign up for our weekly email for the North Texas news you need to know.