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NEW AND UPDATED THIS DIGEST:
— Disabled Cruise Ship.
— Disabled Cruise Ship-Industry Impact.
— American-US Airways-Merger.
— Delaware Courthouse Shooting.
— Officers-Corruption Probe.
— Texas System-Tuition Rates.
— Texas House-Budget.
— Texas Legislature-Same Sex Marriage.
— Capitol Almanac.
— Air Force Sex Scandal.
— Prisoner Escape-Texas.
— Gas Prices.
— Pickens Portrait.
DISABLED CRUISE SHIP
This is not at all how it looked in the brochure: Pulled by a tugboat at a maddeningly slow pace, the cruise ship Carnival Triumph finally drew within sight of land Thursday as miserable passengers told stories of overflowing toilets, food shortages, foul odors and dangerously dark passageways. Around midday, four days after the 893-foot ship was crippled by an engine-room fire in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, the more than 4,200 passengers and crew members suffered another misfortune with towline issues that brought the vessel to a dead stop just when it was getting close to port. By Jay Reeves and Ramit Plushnick-Masti.
DISABLED CRUISE SHIP-INDUSTRY IMPACT
NEW YORK — Some travel agents on Thursday said cruise prices and bookings have not been affected by reports about a disabled Carnival ship, but others in the industry say it's too early to tell. By Travel Editor Beth J. Harpaz.
DALLAS — US Airways CEO Doug Parker has landed the big merger he sought for years. Now the soon-to-be CEO of the new American Airlines has to make it work. The fleet needs new planes and new paint. Frequent flier programs have to be combined. American's on-time performance must improve. And the airline needs to win back business travelers who have drifted to competitors. But Parker's nothing if not persistent. By Airlines Writer David Koenig and Joshua Freed.
CHICAGO — A merged American Airlines and US Airways will carry more passengers around the world than any other, but even the biggest airline flying doesn't need eight hub airports on the ground. That means amid the hoopla of Thursday's merger announcement, there are a few mayors, a handful of chambers of commerce leaders and lots of frequent flyers worried about what's to come. By Jason Keyser.
DELAWARE COURTHOUSE SHOOTING
BAYVILLE, N.J. — The tearful widow of a one-time New Jersey police officer who killed his former daughter-in-law and another woman at a Delaware courthouse before fatally shooting himself said Thursday that she had no inkling he was planning the violent rampage. Lenore Matusiewicz told The Associated Press that she told her husband Tom, who often carried a gun in a hip holster around their Texas community, to leave his guns at home before they drove to Delaware last week. By Randall Chase.
HOUSTON — A judge in Texas has sentenced the last two defendants convicted for helping disgraced financier R. Allen Stanford bilk investors out of more than $7 billion in one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history. Gilbert Lopez Jr., the ex-chief accounting officer for one of Stanford's companies, and Mark Kuhrt, the global controller, were each sentenced to 20 years in prison during a hearing Thursday in Houston federal court. By Juan A. Lozano.
MCALLEN, Texas — Two South Texas men waived their detention hearings and remained in federal custody Thursday for allegedly using corrupt law enforcement officers to steal drugs from other drug traffickers. The bond hearings for Fernando Guerra Jr. and his father, Fernando Guerra Sr., had been scheduled for Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's office said. By Christopher Sherman.
DALLAS — Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins is refusing to appear in court to answer accusations that his office pursued charges against a member of a high-profile family at the behest of a campaign donor. Watkins was called to testify Thursday by attorneys for oil heir Al Hill III, who's charged with mortgage fraud. Hunt's attorneys allege Dallas attorney Lisa Blue urged Watkins to pursue the case. By Nomaan Merchant.
DALLAS — An exhibit showcasing lesser-known and rarely seen works from the artist Marc Chagall, including ceramics, sculptures and ballet costumes, opens this weekend in Dallas. "Chagall: Beyond Color" opens Sunday at the Dallas Museum of Art, the only U.S. venue for the exhibit of works by the artist best known for his paintings with vibrant colors and imagery including animals floating in space. By Jamie Stengle.
TEXAS SYSTEM-TUITION RATES
AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas System regents on Thursday ordered their campuses to offer students a four-year, fixed-rate tuition option by fall of 2014 to encourage them to graduate on time. After a decade of rising tuition costs, Gov. Rick Perry has been pushing universities to offer fixed-rate tuition to help students and their families budget for college. The Legislature also is considering writing the four-year tuition option into state law. By Jim Vertuno.
AUSTIN, Texas — Public schools that lost $5.4 billion in state funding two years ago could get some of that money back in time for summer, as the top budget writer in the Texas House said Thursday talks are under way to beef up an immediate spending bill with extra dollars for education. Once the state settles IOUs in the coming weeks to pay outstanding debts, such as Medicaid and the cost of fighting 2011 wildfires, lawmakers are expected to have nearly $1 billion left to spend on the current Texas budget. By Paul J. Weber.
TEXAS-JUVENILE JUSTICE-MENTAL HEALTH
AUSTIN, Texas — A criminal justice expert has told lawmakers that rates of mental illness exceed gang affiliation among juveniles in Texas jails. The 2013 figures presented on Thursday show that 56 percent of young offenders have a diagnosed mental illness, compared to 39 percent in 2007. By Michael Brick.
In other legislative news:
— TEXAS LEGISLATURE-SAME SEX MARRIAGE — A Democratic lawmaker has introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Texas, 10 years after the Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment banning it.
— CAPITOL ALMANAC — Highlights from around the Texas Capitol.
SAN ANTONIO — Dozens of couples are at the historic 1892 courthouse in downtown San Antonio to partake in what's become an annual Valentine's tradition — a free marriage on the courthouse steps. For 24 years now, San Antonio pastor Rev. Joe Sullivan has presided over nuptials at the Bexar County Courthouse. By Michael Graczyk.
HOUSTON — US Airways CEO Doug Parker has landed the big merger he sought for years. Now the soon-to-be CEO of the new American Airlines has to make it work. The fleet needs new planes and new paint. Frequent flier programs have to be combined. American's on-time performance must improve. And the airline needs to win back business travelers who have drifted to competitors. But Parker's nothing if not persistent. By Chris Duncan.
— PRISONER ESCAPE-TEXAS — Authorities continue to search neighborhoods near a North Texas department store parking lot where a Florida prisoner escaped while being transported to Nevada.
— AIR FORCE SEX SCANDAL — A military judge has sentenced a former Air Force instructor at a San Antonio base to 2½ years in prison for sexual misconduct.
— GAS PRICES — Retail gasoline prices across Texas have increased an average of 5 cents per gallon in the last week, but they remain well below the national average.
— PICKENS PORTRAIT — Texas oil magnate, billionaire philanthropist and Oklahoma State University megabooster T. Boone Pickens has been honored at the Oklahoma Capitol with the unveiling of a portrait by Oklahoma artist Mike Wimmer.
IRVING, Texas — New Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is about to turn 73 and has been out of the NFL for five years. The Cowboys are thinking more about his history of success at Tampa Bay and how a switch to Kiffin's 4-3 alignment will translate into fewer mistakes and more turnovers. By Schuyler Dixon.