BC-TX--Texas News Digest, TX

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Associated Press

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 19 at 9:30 PM

Texas news at 7:20 p.m. CST.

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NEW AND UPDATED THIS DIGEST:

— Hostess-Bankruptcy Hearing.

— Texas Schools-Commissioner.

— Texas-School Finance Trial.

— Day Care Fire.

— AMR-Lawsuit.

— Veterans Parade-Train Crash.

— Texas-Deadly Pileup.

— Waco-Shooting Deaths.

HOSTESS-BANKRUPTCY HEARING

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Twinkies will live to see another day. Hostess Brands Inc. and its second largest union agreed on Monday to try to resolve their differences after a bankruptcy court judge noted that the parties hadn't gone through the critical step of private mediation. That means the Irving, Texas-based maker of the spongy cake with the mysterious cream filling won't go out of business yet. The news comes after the maker of Ho Ho's, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread last week moved to liquidate and sell off its assets in bankruptcy court. Hostess cited a crippling strike started on Nov. 9 by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents about 30 percent of Hostess workers. By Food Industry Writer Candice Choi.

AP photos.

TEXAS SCHOOLS-COMMISSIONER

AUSTIN, Texas — Education Commissioner Michael Williams said Monday that Texas' system for rating schools should rely in part on how well districts close achievement gaps between minority and white students "because it's just who we are as a state." Texas' top public education official told The Associated Press that black and Hispanic students, whose numbers continue to increase statewide, struggle more on standardized tests than whites. By Will Weissert.

TEXAS-SCHOOL FINANCE TRIAL

AUSTIN, Texas — A state judge hearing arguments Monday in the Texas school finance trial denied a motion to allow districts to resubmit evidence after attorneys for the state uncovered errors during cross examination. Judge John Dietz said he would not allow the schools suing the state to recalculate a study that found Texas needs to spend an additional $7 billion a year to adequately fund public schools. Dietz is now unlikely to use the study when determining his final judgment.

DAY CARE FIRE

HOUSTON — Prosecutors on Monday asked a jury to sentence a Texas woman convicted of murder after a fire at her home day care killed four children to life in prison, arguing she doomed the children she was responsible for when she left them alone to go shopping before the deadly blaze broke out. Defense attorneys for Jessica Tata countered she was a good person who made a terrible mistake and asked jurors to not be swayed by anger. The jury deliberated Tata's sentence for about 5½ hours Monday after closing arguments in the punishment phase of her trial. Jurors will resume deliberating on Tuesday. The jury is being sequestered during their deliberations. By Juan A. Lozano.

AP Photos.

GULF OIL SPILL

NEW ORLEANS — Federal authorities have pinned blame for the well blowout that caused the Gulf oil spill on two BP supervisors, even though a series of investigations found the disaster was spawned by a complex web of mistakes involving numerous people and companies. An attorney for the two men says the well site leaders, who are accused of botching a crucial safety test, are just scapegoats. However, one expert says the Justice Department may be hoping to get their cooperation to build a case against others farther up the corporate ladder at energy giant BP PLC. By Michael Kunzelman.

AIRMAN'S WIFE-TODDLER DEATH

ABILENE, Texas — An airman at Dyess Air Force Base was living for at least a month with a woman and her three children, including a toddler who later died, in a home that smelled of kids' urine and feces, a police detective testified Monday. Senior Airman Christopher Perez is charged with child endangerment, failure to report child abuse and adultery. A military hearing was held Monday to determine if there is enough evidence for a trial against Perez.

AMR-LAWSUIT

NEW YORK — A trustee for investors owed more than $1.1 billion for notes secured by aircraft is suing American Airlines over the carrier's plan to refinance the debt at lower rates. The trustee, U.S. Bank Trust National Association, said American is using its bankruptcy filing as a ploy to avoid early repayment charges. U.S. Bank said the refinancing isn't a consequence of American's bankruptcy filing, and instead that American and Fort Worth, Texas-based parent AMR Corp. "admit unabashedly that they are pursuing the proposed refinancing because the interest rate environment is favorable." It said AMR has several billion dollars in cash and can afford the early repayment fees.

EXCHANGE-CHALK ARTWORK

HOUSTON — Elinor Smith used colored pastels and a clean sidewalk to create a layered drawing of an owl. Smith's inspiration for the 6-foot square that she created at the 7th annual Via Colori Street-Painting Festival came from a picture she saw on Pinterest. "After I saw a square my sister drew one year and got jealous, I decided I wanted to draw one myself," said Smith, an art teacher at Alief's Hastings High School. Smith and her sister were among 200 artists who showcased their talents with chalk over the weekend at Hermann Square. About 20,000 people have attended the free event each year since its inception in 2006. By Erica Quiroz, Houston Chronicle.

AP Photos.

ALSO:

— VETERANS PARADE-TRAIN CRASH — One person remains hospitalized in Midland with injuries from last week's crash of a freight train into a veterans' parade float that killed four vets.

— TEXAS-DEADLY PILEUP — At least one person is dead after a chain collision of 13 vehicles on a busy Central Texas interstate, including four tractor-trailer rigs.

— WACO-SHOOTING DEATHS — A 25-year-old Waco man was arrested and charged with retaliating against a potential witness in his brother's capital murder trial.

— ILLEGAL GUN BUY-AGENT — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer has been sentenced to five years on probation for buying two guns illegally.

— TEXAS-THANKSGIVING TRAVEL — A travel group has predicted nearly 3.3 million Texans will hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday period.

— HANGAR-DEADLY CRASH — Investigators say a 60-year-old novice pilot has died after her small plane crashed into a hangar at an East Texas airport.

— WESTLAKE CHEMICAL-SPECIAL DIVIDEND — Westlake Chemical has declared a special dividend of $3.75 per share and a quarterly dividend of 18.75 cents per share.

— DALLAS-IMPLODED BUILDING — Part of downtown Dallas has a new look following the implosion of a vacant eight-story office building.

— FATHER SLAIN — Authorities are trying to determine a motive in a Houston-area shooting that left a 63-year-old man dead and his son charged with murder.

— PUPPY PROGRAM — The Transportation Security Administration has announced plans to shut down its South Texas facility for breeding and development of bomb-sniffing dogs.

— SOUTHWEST-OXYGEN MASKS — Southwest Airlines says a flight from Kansas City to Dallas lost cabin pressure, forcing passengers and crew to wear oxygen masks until the plane had descended to a safe altitude.

— FIRETRUCK-DEADLY WRECK — Houston police say a driver has been killed after his car hit a firetruck that was returning to a station following a call.

— SHOOTING-TWO DEAD — Authorities say two people are dead and three are injured after gunmen opened fire at a family gathering in South Texas in what appeared to be a targeted attack.

— BITTEN ROOMMATE-PRISON — A Southeast Texas man convicted of biting his female roommate as he argued with his girlfriend has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

SPORTS REFER:

FBN--COWBOYS-HERE COMES RG3

IRVING, Texas — Dallas played a long game, and is now facing a short week that will include a visit from Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. The former Baylor star is coming back to Texas with Washington for the ultimate in Thanksgiving tradition — Cowboys vs. Redskins. Dallas takes its first winning streak into the Thursday game, while Washington is coming off a blowout of Philadelphia. By Schuyler Dixon.

AP Photos.

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