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Associated Press

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Researchers from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi have sent a drone more than a half mile into the air as part of test flights for the federal government.
 
An unmanned aerial vehicle known as an RS-16 took off Wednesday from a gas-propelled catapult at the Kenedy Foundation Ranch in South Texas. The drone headed up to nearly 3,000 feet over the Gulf Coast.

Texas Tribune/Flickr

Plans have been unveiled for a renovated park with a playground and memorial in the town of West, where a fertilizer plant explosion claimed 15 lives.

Organizers on Tuesday night outlined the proposal during a town hall meeting in West. The park was damaged in last April's fiery accident.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

A Texas agency is hiring a seismologist as part of an effort to tackle a sudden increase in earthquakes in areas with significant oil and gas drilling activities.

The Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that regulates drilling, says Tuesday it is hiring a seismologist after holding a contentious meeting with residents in Azle.

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Update, 12:51 p.m. Monday: The operator of the electric transmission grid for most of Texas is encouraging folks to conserve energy during this cold snap.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas had warned Monday morning that rolling blackouts may be necessary unless consumers reduced their use of electricity. An email warning issued by ERCOT said "risk of power outages exist throughout Texas."

But ERCOT later said the system is recovering and blackouts are no longer being considered.

The stakes were high and the vote was close as Boeing production workers agreed to concede some benefits in order to secure assembly of the new 777X airplane for the Puget Sound region.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Boeing hailed Friday's vote, which proponents said solidifies the aerospace giant's presence in the Seattle area.

"Tonight, Washington state secured its future as the aerospace capital of the world," Inslee declared.

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Many Texans will ring in 2014 with bubbly, beer, and other booze, and the state will almost surely continue an ignominious streak: At least one person has died on Texas roads every day for more than 13 years.
 
The last day without a traffic death in Texas was Nov. 7, 2000. It's believed to be the longest streak in the history of the state, where such records date back to 1940.

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Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi has been named a test site to develop drones for commercial use.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that Texas is one of six states that will be development sites for the unmanned aircraft.

The university's president, Flavius Killebrew, says the school is "proud to be a part of this historic moment in aviation history."

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Texas cities are ramping up efforts to get people enrolled in President Barack Obama's health care exchange as they face a deadline for insurance coverage to begin Jan. 1.

People who want their plans to begin Jan. 1 have to enroll by Monday. Open enrollment continues through March 31.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the country.

President Barack Obama suggests he may be ready to rein in some of the bulk collection of Americans' phone records to allay the public's privacy concerns.

Courtesy

A former paramedic in West, the tiny town devastated by a fertilizer plant explosion, was sentenced to 21 months after pleading guilty in an unrelated pipe bomb case.
 
Bryce Reed was sentenced Wednesday in Waco.

Federal authorities arrested Reed a few weeks after the deadly April 17 blast in West and accused him of trying to hide components of a pipe bomb. Authorities have not linked Reed to the blast, which killed 15 people.

Paul Walker, the star of the "Fast & Furious" movie series, died Saturday in a car crash that killed one other person north of Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 40.

Walker died Saturday afternoon, Ame Van Iden told the Associated Press.

A statement on the actor's Facebook page said he was a passenger in a friend's car, and that Walker was in the area to attend a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.

"We ... are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news," the statement said.

North Texas has had another earthquake in an area that's now recorded five quakes in the past week.
 
The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.3 magnitude earthquake happened at 1:43 a.m. Monday and was centered about 4 miles west of Azle.

Pete Souza/The White House via Twitter

Honoring the legacy of John F. Kennedy, President Barack Obama laid a wreath at the assassinated president's gravesite as a nation remembers that terrible day in Dallas a half-century ago Friday.

Obama also recognized a group of distinguished Americans - including Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey - with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award created by Kennedy.

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A sharply divided Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Texas to continue enforcing abortion restrictions that opponents say have led more than a third of the state's clinics to stop providing abortions.

The justices voted 5-4 to leave in effect a provision requiring doctors who perform abortions in clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Healthcare.gov

Less than 3,000 Texans managed to enroll for health insurance last month on the problem-plagued federal online exchange that's a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that 2,991 people in Texas had selected a plan from the insurance marketplace.

wallyg / Flickr

The issues of same-sex marriage and divorce are set to go before the Texas Supreme Court.
 
The court is scheduled to hear arguments today on whether Texas can grant divorces to same-sex couples who married elsewhere.
 
Both cases involve same-sex couples who married legally in Massachusetts. Texas approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2005.

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Planned Parenthood is asking the Supreme Court to place Texas' new abortion restrictions on hold.
 
The group says in a filing with the high court Monday that more than a third of the clinics in Texas have been forced to stop providing abortions since a court order allowed the new restrictions to take effect Friday.

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The state's highest criminal court has struck down a Texas law that bans sexually explicit Internet communications between an adult and minor.
 
The Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously determined that the 2005 law violates free speech protections. The Austin American-Statesman reports the law was intended to target "grooming," in which predators befriend children online before making explicit comments.

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Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been named the next president of the Boy Scouts of America.
 
The Irving-based organization announced Gates' appointment to the volunteer position Wednesday. His two-year term begins next May, once he's formally approved by the voting members of the Boy Scouts' National Council.
 

BJ Alias/Nostalgia-domas / Flickr

Gov. Rick Perry will travel to the small North Texas town of Farmersville to present a state honor to World War II hero Audie Murphy.

Perry will be in the Collin County town on Tuesday afternoon to bestow the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor posthumously on Murphy.

Murphy was one of the most decorated soldiers in U.S. history, and his portrait hangs in the Texas House of Representatives chamber.

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Lou Reed, the punk-poet of rock ‘n’ roll, died Sunday. He was 71. He died from an ailment related to a recent liver transplant.

Reed was leader of the 1960s cult band Velvet Underground. He later became a solo performer. He influenced generations of musicians from David Bowie and R.E.M. to Talking Heads and Sonic Youth.

He was a legendary musician – and legendary for being a difficult interviewee. But KERA’s Jerome Weeks turned around a nice radio piece in 2010 about Reed, focusing on his photography. Many of his landscape pictures were on display at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT Radio

AUSTIN -- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has promised to review the performance of contractors who helped build a foundering website intended to help people buy health insurance.

Sebelius, who visited Austin on Friday, was on damage control as she's been criticized for the website's rocky rollout. She promised that problems with Healthcare.gov would get fixed. She said she would make sure taxpayers got their money's worth from the private companies contracted to build the website.

RR Auction

Lee Harvey Oswald's gold wedding band has sold at auction for $108,000.
 
RR Auction said the ring sold to a buyer from Texas who wished to remain anonymous. The ring that once belonged to the assassin of President John F. Kennedy was among almost 300 items linked to Kennedy's life and death that went up for auction Thursday in Boston.

Texas A&M

Texas A&M University plans to create an A&M branch in Israel.

The announcement was made Wednesday in Israel at the Jerusalem residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Gov. Rick Perry and Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp are traveling in Israel this week. Sharp says that A&M will open a "peace university" in Nazareth, Israel's largest city.

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

A Texas House panel investigating University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall heard its first round of testimony today in Austin. The investigation could lead to the first impeachment of a nonelected official in state history.

Some state lawmakers have accused Hall of misusing the authority of his office in an effort to force out UT Austin President Bill Powers.

State of Texas

The Texas attorney general's office says new abortion limits seek to expressly protect fetal life -- not just the safety of the woman terminating a pregnancy.

Advocacy groups have sued in federal court to block as unconstitutional parts of an abortion law that threw the Legislature into chaos over the summer. A judge is hearing arguments in court today in Austin.

State Fair of Texas

Visitors to this year’s State Fair of Texas spent $37.2 million on food, amusement rides and other fun.

That made for a strong year, and better than last year, but just short of the 2010 record of $37.3 million.

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Black Friday not good enough for you?

How about shopping on Thanksgiving?

J.C. Penney is opening its doors on Thanksgiving evening to kick off the holiday shopping season. The beleaguered Plano-based retailer hopes to get back in the game for the crucial selling period.

Penney will open most of its 1,100 stores at 8 p.m., the same as rival Macy's. So instead of getting up super early on Black Friday, you can feast on turkey, take a long nap and head to the mall and wait in line before the sun goes down. 

American Airlines

After years of losses, American Airlines is making money by boosting revenue and cutting labor costs.

American's parent company, Fort Worth-based AMR Corp., said Thursday that it earned $289 million, or 76 cents per share, in the third quarter. That's a turnaround from a loss of $238 million, or 71 cents per share, a year earlier.

Heritage Auctions

A rocking chair used by President John F. Kennedy in the White House is on display in New York City -- and it will be auctioned in Dallas in November.

The chair is part of a collection of Kennedy memorabilia that Heritage Auctions will offer Nov. 23. The display, which also features items including two flags from the Oval Office, went up Thursday at the auction house's New York City location, where it will remain through Oct. 30.

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