Daily Roundup
12:39 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Court Stays Texas Voter-Registration Injunction

An appeals court has stayed an injunction that had blocked enforcement of parts of Texas' new voter registration laws.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided 2-1 on Thursday with the state and stayed a previous injunction by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa. Costa had struck down five provisions of the law and imposed an injunction.

Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott called the latest ruling "a victory for voter integrity" that "helps Texas prevent fraud in the voter-registration process."

The non-partisan group Voting for America says the laws make it harder to register people to vote. It also complains that they unconstitutionally restrict voter registration drives from gathering public voter information.

The new laws limit who can hand out voter registration cards and who can collect completed registration forms.

AP

Dallas County Records Another West Nile Death

A 14th death from West Nile virus is reported today in Dallas County.

Health officials say the patient lived in Irving, in the 75062 zip code. That’s just north of Highway 183. The patient had the more serious neuroinvasive strain of the virus.

Irving was among a small number of Dallas County cities that opted out of recent aerial spraying for mosquitoes – transmitters of the virus. Irving has been ground spraying.

Dallas County is reporting 337 human cases of West Nile virus.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Texas to seek No Child Left Behind waiver

Texas says it will seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to avoid federal accountability standards imposed by the No Child Left Behind law.

Texas had been one of several large states nationwide not to seek reprieve from some mandates of the law. Education officials said they were reluctant because they feared the federal government might eventually impose a national curriculum.

But the Texas Education Agency posted notice online Thursday saying it intends to seek the waiver. The decision comes just five days after new education commissioner Michael Williams took his post.

Recent state statistics showed that nearly half of Texas' public and charter schools failed to meet No Child Left Behind accountability standards, which are getting progressively more rigorous annually.

That's a sharp increase from previous years.

AP

Dallas Attorney Facing Charges

A Dallas attorney is charged with stealing from his clients.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s office says lawyer Tom Corea is accused of stealing settlement funds from clients’ trust accounts; using false information to secure loans; and stealing identities to apply for loans and credit cards.

He is charged with theft over $200,000. The D-A’s office says the indictments against Corea are the result of a seven month investigation.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Free Mosquito Repellant in Fort Worth

Tarrant County health officials will hand out free cans of mosquito repellant to residents at the Fort Worth Salvation Army Center Friday.

Five thousand cans have been donated to the county. Meals on Wheels volunteers and officials at low-income housing developments will also be distributing the spray. Health officials say wearing insect repellant is one of the most important protections against mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus.

To date, there are 241 cases of West Nile and five deaths reported in Tarrant County.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Don’t Eat The Marlin

The Texas Department of State Health Services is warning against eating blue marlin caught off the Texas Coast because of high levels of mercury: 18 times the safe limit.

Officials say swordfish caught off the Texas coast are also showing slightly elevated concentrations of mercury, and people should eliminate or severely limit consumption.

An advisory for the Texas Gulf Coast is already in place recommending that king mackerel greater than 43 inches total length not be consumed.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Big DFW Connector Project Opens New Bridges

Two new bridges that are part of the DFW Connector project open this week. Both bridges are just north of DFW Airport. The northbound International Parkway Bridge opens Thursday night. The southbound Highway 121 bridge to 114 is to open Friday night.

Officials say the two new bridges will improve traffic flow into and out of the airport.

The billion-dollar DFW Connector Project is ahead of schedule and set for completion next summer.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Guilty Plea In Arlington Murder For Hire Case

The man arrested for hiring a hit man to kill Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck has pleaded guilty.

34 year old Ryan Grant of Kennedale entered the plea in federal court Thursday morning.

He is co-owner of the Arlington strip club Flashdancer. Federal authorities say Grant was angry that the city of Arlington filed a nuisance lawsuit against the club, which resulted in its closing.

Grant faces a maximum ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for December 28th.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Prosecutors: DNA confirms death row inmate's guilt

The Dallas County district attorney's office says it will seek a new execution date for a man condemned for the slaying of a Dallas woman at her apartment more than 20 years ago after new DNA testing confirmed the prisoner's guilt.

Prosecutors in May asked a judge to withdraw the June execution date for Bobby Lee Hines pending the outcome of the tests. The district attorney's office said Thursday testing of nail clippings from 26-year-old Michelle Wendy Haupt confirmed Hines as the man who strangled and used an ice pick to kill her in 1991.

Hines, now 40, was 19 at the time and on probation. He was staying with the apartment complex maintenance man who lived next door to Haupt and had access to keys to apartments.

AP

Retail gas prices down penny in Texas, nationwide

Retail gasoline prices in Texas and nationwide have slipped a penny this week.

AAA Texas on Thursday reported the statewide average price at the pump stood at $3.66 per gallon. Drivers nationwide are paying an average $3.82 per gallon.

Texarkana has the most expensive gasoline in Texas at $3.72 per gallon. The association survey found that the cheapest gasoline statewide is in El Paso, at $3.44 per gallon.

AAA says gasoline prices spiked last week as the Gulf Coast braced for Hurricane Isaac and some refineries shut down. Prices weakened once the market determined Isaac would have a limited impact on long-term production.

AP

Judge orders Fort Hood suspect be clean-shaven

A military judge says the Army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage must be clean-shaven or will be forcibly shaved before his murder trial.

Col. Gregory Gross issued the official order Thursday after a hearing to determine whether a federal religious freedom law applied to Hasan's case.

Hasan says he grew his beard because his Muslim faith requires it. Army regulations ban beards.

Gross ruled the defense didn't prove that Hasan is growing a beard for sincere religious reasons.

Gross also says his order triggers another delay in all proceedings related to Hasan's trial because his attorneys plan to appeal.

Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder in the November 2009 attack on the Texas Army post.

AP

North Texas man gets probation in dog abuse case

A North Texas man who kept dozens of dogs in filthy conditions has been sentenced to two years of probation and 80 hours of community service.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports 50-year-old Harry George Weldon of Fort Worth pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cruelty to non-livestock animals.

Weldon's plea deal was reached last month in Parker County where 58 dogs were located in May. At least 31 dogs found in crates, with no food or water, were taken to a shelter. Some of the other animals were dead or had to be euthanized.

Four of his relatives face animal cruelty or child endangerment charges. A toddler was in a crib at the home where animal waste littered the floor.

Weldon was also fined $500 and must pay court costs.

AP