BC-TX--Texas News Digest, TX

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Associated Press

Posted on January 21, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 21 at 12:00 PM

Texas news at 4:30 a.m. CST.

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CHURCH SERVICES-FLU

DALLAS — Texas churches are taking precautions to try to help congregants avoid the flu — keeping hand sanitizer at the ready, telling them they can skip the shared communion chalice, and encouraging a bow, nod or even fist bump instead of shaking hands. As people left a morning Mass on Sunday at St. Rita Catholic Community in Dallas, many stopped at a table in the vestibule to bathe their hands in hand sanitizer. Church leaders also are advising parishioners that they can take just bread for Holy Communion and skip the wine, which is sipped from a shared cup. During the sign of peace when parishioners greet each other, they can nod or bow instead of shaking hands. By Jamie Stengle.

AP Photo

TEXAS BUDGET-ANALYSIS

AUSTIN, Texas — The comptroller has laid out the revenue numbers, Republican lawmakers have introduced budget proposals and Democrats and lobbyists have compiled lists of demands. Let the budget battle begin. Every Texas lawmaker knows there is only one piece of legislation they must pass every two years — the general appropriations bill, also known as the budget. They have little say over how two-thirds of the state's money is spent because it comes with strings attached, but they do control a portion called general revenue, and this year that totals $101.4 billion. Whether that number is big or small, or represents a surplus or a shortfall, depends on the beholder's politics. By Chris Tomlinson.

DALLAS MUSEUM-FREE ADMISSION

DALLAS — While viewing artwork can be culturally enriching, one Dallas museum is making sure the experience doesn't cost people a thing. The Dallas Museum of Art on Monday is rolling out a new program that will offer free admission as well as free memberships.

ALGERIA-KIDNAPPING

ALGIERS, Algeria — The death toll from the terrorist siege at a natural gas plant in the Sahara climbed to at least 81 on Sunday as Algerian forces searching the refinery for explosives found dozens more bodies, many so badly disfigured it was unclear whether they were hostages or militants, a security official said. Algerian special forces stormed the plant on Saturday to end the four-day siege, moving in to thwart what government officials said was a plot by the Islamist militants to blow up the complex and kill all their hostages with mines sown throughout the site. One American, a Texan — Frederick Buttaccio from the Houston suburb of Katy — was among the dead. U.S. officials told The Associated Press Buttaccio's remains were recovered Friday. By Aomar Ouali and Paul Schemm.

With

— US-ALGERIA — The White House says it will work with the Algerian government to understand how events unfolded in the terrorist attack on a natural gas complex in the Sahara desert.

INAUGURATION-LATINOS

WASHINGTON — Latinos are taking a more prominent role in President Barack Obama's second inauguration, from the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice swearing in the vice president to a star-studded celebration of Latino culture. Eva Longoria, a co-chairwoman for Obama's campaign, is hosting a salute to the president Sunday evening. Antonio Banderas, Rosario Dawson, Marc Anthony and other entertainers are scheduled to appear in "Latino Inaugural 2013: In Performance at the Kennedy Center." The lineup also includes Jose Feliciano, Prince Royce, Frankie Negron, Rita Moreno and Mario Lopez. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who gave the keynote speech at last year's Democratic National Convention, will address the audience. By Brett Zongker.

GULF OF MEXICO SCIENCE

NEW ORLEANS — Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who was in charge of cleaning up BP's 2010 oil spill, will be the keynote speaker at an international scientific conference about the Gulf of Mexico. His speech Monday in New Orleans kicks off hundreds of scientific presentations through Wednesday. They range from socioeconomic effects of the spill to developments in dispersant science and technology. On Tuesday, a public forum is planned on the Gulf's ecosystems and prospects for recovery — with a chance to ask questions of spill investigators Donald Boesch and Steven Murawski. By Janet McConnaughey.

SHRIMP SUBSIDY INVESTIGATION

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Commerce Department says it is investigating subsidies in eight nations for frozen warmwater shrimp. Gulf of Mexico shrimpers had asked for the investigation of subsidized imports from China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

BOEING-FAA

DALLAS — After two separate and serious battery problems aboard Boeing 787s, it wasn't U.S. authorities who acted first to ground the plane. It was Japanese airlines. The unfolding saga of Boeing's highest-profile plane has raised new questions about federal oversight of aircraft makers and airlines. Some aviation experts question the ability of the Federal Aviation Administration to keep up with changes in the way planes are being made today — both the technological advances and the use of multiple suppliers from around the globe. Others question whether regulators are too cozy with aircraft manufacturers. By David Koenig.

STATE SCHOOLS-FIGHT CLUB

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A South Texas state-run living center where residents with mental disabilities were once forced to fight is safer as it acts swiftly to protect residents, including by responding quickly to abuse accusations and completing investigations within 10 days, according to a federal report. The Corpus Christi State Supported Living Center is being overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a settlement agreement with the federal government over statewide mistreatment of the disabled. An investigation of the center in 2009 uncovered late-night "fight clubs" where workers forced some of the mentally challenged residents to fight each other. A series of videos authorities discovered showed night staff instigating the fights at one of the facility's dorms, even kicking residents and telling them what to do. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported Sunday the Justice Department wrote in its latest report that the facility has made progress documenting and tracking abuse allegations.

COMPETING GUN BUYBACKS

DALLAS — A Dallas church that had organized an event to buy guns back from residents found itself with some unexpected close competition — just across the street. The First Presbyterian Church of Dallas had organized a gun buyback event downtown on Saturday, offering $50 for handguns and rifles and up to $200 for semiautomatic assault weapons. The Dallas Morning News reported (http://dallasne.ws/SkhiWU) that concealed handgun license instructor Collin Baker organized a pro-gun event and marketplace across the street from the church's event.

FRACKING WITH GAS

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Advances in hydraulic fracturing technology have powered the American natural gas boom. And now hydraulic fracturing could be increasingly powered by the very fuel it has been so successful in coaxing up from the depths. Oil- and gas-field companies from Pennsylvania to Texas are experimenting with converting the huge diesel pump engines that propel millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals thousands of feet down well bores to break apart rock or tight sands and release the natural gas trapped inside. By Marc Levy.

Also:

— CAR WASH DEATH — A 72-year-old woman was killed in a Southeast Texas car wash after an unsecured vehicle that was being cleaned ran her over.

— PARKING GARAGE-DEADLY FALL — Police say a man has accidentally fallen 10 stories to his death from a parking garage in downtown San Antonio.

— SHERIFF'S OFFICE-GUN — Officials say a Lufkin man was arrested after walking into the sheriff's office lobby in Angelina County with a gun and screaming at dispatchers.

— DEADLY DOG ATTACK — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy in Southeast Texas has died from injuries he sustained after being attacked by a pit bull.

— DOG ATTACK-THUMB — El Paso County Sheriff's Office officials say they have fatally shot a pit bull that had bitten off a West Texas woman's thumb.

SPORTS REFER:

BKO--MAVERICKS-MAGIC

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando on Sunday was trying to avoid a seventh consecutive defeat to an opponent with a losing record while Dallas tries to come back after having its four-game win streak snapped in an overtime loss to Oklahoma City. By Kyle Hightower.

AP Photos.

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