BC-TX--Texas News Digest, TX

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Associated Press

Posted on May 7, 2013 at 8:30 PM

Texas news at 7:45 p.m. CDT.

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NEW AND UPDATED THIS DIGEST:

— Plant Explosion-Investigation.

— Texas Courthouse Shooting.

— Texas Execution.

— XGR--UIL-Concussion Insurance.

— Immigration.

— Texas-Testing Scandal.

— Texas Spaceport.

— Reid-Republicans.

— Impostor Student.

— US Airways-Unions.

— Earns-JC Penney.

— Dr Phil Lawsuit-Gawker.

— Music-George Jones Concert.

PLANT EXPLOSION-INVESTIGATION

WEST, Texas — Almost a month into their review of the deadly blast at a Texas fertilizer plant, investigators are hoping to draw a picture from the air of how the plant looked before the explosion and compare it to the 93-foot-wide crater that's there now. They'll paint and mark off lines for the walls of each building at West Fertilizer, where an April 17 explosion killed at least 14 people. Then, they'll fly overhead to compare the lines to the crater. By Nomaan Merchant.

With:

— PLANT EXPLOSION-RECOVERY CENTER — Government officials have changed the hours of a disaster recovery center in a Central Texas town where a fertilizer plant explosion left 14 people dead.

TEXAS COURTHOUSE SHOOTING

GALVESTON, Texas — After disrupting his capital murder trial several times with profanity-filled outbursts, a Texas man erupted in one final chaotic fit when a jury sentenced him to death on Tuesday for killing a bystander while trying to shoot his daughter outside a courthouse. Bartholomew Granger's courtroom rants against his daughter, prosecutors and the judge had intensified since he was convicted last week of capital murder in the death of 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt, who was walking outside the courthouse in Beaumont when she was shot in March 2012. By Juan A. Lozano.

AP photo.

TEXAS EXECUTION

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas death row inmate convicted of killing a fellow drug dealer while robbing him outside of a Waco convenience store 10 years ago was executed Tuesday evening. In the seconds before being injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital, Carroll Joe Parr told his victim's wife she should talk to her brother to learn "the truth about what happened to your husband." Then, in what he called a "statement to the world," Parr said he was "in the midst of the truth." ''I am good. I am straight," he said. By Michael Graczyk.

AP photos.

XGR--BUSINESS TAXES

AUSTIN, Texas — A major tax bill that is pivotal to Gov. Rick Perry's demand for tax relief has ballooned above $ 1 billion in potential breaks as debate gets under way in the Texas House. By Paul J. Weber.

With:

— XGR--UIL-CONCUSSION INSURANCE — The Texas House has approved a public school pilot program allowing parents to purchase supplemental concussion insurance for boys who play football and girls who play soccer.

— XGR--TOBACCO TAXES — The Texas House has narrowly approved and sent to the Senate a bill cutting taxes on chewing tobacco by more than 30 percent but raising the price of some smaller brands of cigarettes.

IMMIGRATION

WASHINGTON — Landmark immigration legislation is doomed to fail in Congress unless border-security provisions are greatly strengthened, Republican senators bluntly warned on Tuesday. By Erica Werner.

TEXAS-TESTING SCANDAL

EL PASO, Texas — A state-appointed board to manage the El Paso school district held its first official meeting after replacing the district's ousted board. State Education Commissioner Michael Williams charged the new board to "restore the confidence and trust" of the public. The board members were sworn in during the Tuesday board. The five-member board can remain in place for up to two years. By Juan Carlos Llorca.

AP member photos.

SPACEPORT-NEW TENANT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Another space industry heavyweight has signed onto New Mexico's Spaceport America. Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday that Elon Musks' Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has agreed to a three-year lease to do testing of its "Grasshopper" reusable rocket in southern New Mexico. SpaceX is one of the leading developers of rockets and spacecraft and is one of the companies the Spaceport project has been trying to recruit. Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson says the Grasshopper project is moving from McGregor, Texas, to New Mexico because the rocket needs to be tested at higher altitudes.

With:

— TEXAS SPACEPORT — Several hundred people turned out for a discussion of a draft environmental study of a proposal to launch rockets from the southernmost tip of Texas.

SOUTH TEXAS-BIRDING

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Late April storms in South Texas that interrupted the routine northbound spring migration of some birds have created dramatic layovers of colorful winged creatures and great watching for birders. What's known as a "fallout" offers observers unexpected opportunities to view birds that have been grounded or delayed due to weather.

AP Member Photos.

HOME PRICES

WASHINGTON — A survey shows U.S. home prices rose 10.5 percent in March compared with a year ago, the biggest gain since March 2006. Core Logic, a real estate data provider, said Tuesday that annual home prices have now increased for 13 straight months. Prices are rising in part because more buyers are bidding on a limited supply of homes for sale. Houston was among the cities posting large gains. By Christopher S. Rugaber.

Also:

— REID-REPUBLICANS — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comment likening Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to a schoolyard bully is drawing a rebuttal from his target — and a suggestion from another senator that he apologize.

— IMPOSTOR STUDENT — A former Haitian star athlete is to be released after serving a prison sentence on charges arising from his posing as a teenage Odessa high school athlete.

— TEEN DEAD-TRUNK — An uncle of an East Texas girl last seen alive getting off a school bus has been charged in her 2012 slaying.

— SCOREBOARD SCREEN — A school board in South Texas has decided not to spend $1 million to install the largest high school stadium scoreboard screen in Texas and possibly the country.

— CASEY ANTHONY-BANKRUPTCY — A Texas search and rescue organization involved in the search for 2-year-old Caylee Anthony says her mother Casey owes it more than $100,000 in expenses.

— POLICE CHIEF-WELL RESCUE — A Dallas-area police chief has been rescued after falling into an abandoned water well while trying to help round up some loose cattle.

BUSINESS:

US AIRWAYS-UNIONS

DALLAS — The Teamsters say they have enough support to force an election with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to see which union will represent mechanics at US Airways. Teamsters union officials said Tuesday that they received support of 2,800 of the roughly 4,500 US Airways workers who would be eligible to vote. By Airlines Writer David Koenig.

EARNS-JC PENNEY

PLANO, Texas — J.C. Penney Co. says that its first-quarter revenue will likely fall 16 percent and is pointing fingers at prior leadership for part of that shortfall. The struggling Plano, Texas-based retailer fired its CEO Ron Johnson last month after only 17 months on the job and rehired his predecessor Mike Ullman.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES-TRAFFIC

DALLAS — Traffic is up but a key revenue measure is down at Southwest Airlines Co., indicating that carriers are finding it harder to sell high-priced tickets. Southwest said Tuesday that passenger revenue per seat for every mile fell by between 4 percent and 5 percent in April.

With:

— SOUTHWEST AIRLINES-PENSACOLA — Southwest Airlines says it will begin offering flights from Pensacola International Airport to Nashville and Houston.

SOUTHERN UNION-MERCURY SPILL

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Apparently frustrated by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down an $18 million penalty for a Texas natural gas firm, a federal judge is taking the unusual step of asking the environmental community for suggestions on how to sentence the company in a way that will have "the broadest possible impact." By Michelle R. Smith.

ENTERTAINMENT:

— MUSIC-ACL FESTIVAL — Depeche Mode, The Cure, Muse — this year's expanded Austin City Limits Festival will feature something of a European invasion with five of eight headliners at least partially coming from across the Atlantic Ocean. Also among the list of headlining performers announced Tuesday were Atoms For Peace, Phoenix, Lionel Richie and Wilco.

— DR PHIL LAWSUIT-GAWKER — A production company owned by television psychologist Dr. Phil has filed a federal lawsuit in Texas claiming improper use of an interview he conducted with the man who perpetrated a hoax on former Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o.

— MUSIC-GEORGE JONES CONCERT — Before he passed away last month, George Jones had scheduled a star-packed final concert for November. It turns out the show will go on.

SPORTS REFER:

BKN--WARRIORS-SPURS

SAN ANTONIO — The Golden State Warriors feel they had Game 1 in hand, right up until the Spurs decided they could score in bunches of their own, just like Steph Curry. The two teams return to practice after a dizzying double-overtime thriller, with Game 2 set for Wednesday night and San Antonio up 1-0.

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