Drought Map Shows Texas Got Drier In Past Week | KERA News

Drought Map Shows Texas Got Drier In Past Week

Parts of Texas have grown drier as a lack of substantial rains and windy conditions have led to less moisture in the soil. The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday indicates more of West Texas slipped back into the worst drought stage the past week.

Statewide, 20.6 percent was in exceptional drought, up from 14.7 percent last week. But rain was forecast for much of the state in the coming days.

The only area in exceptional drought east of Interstate 35 is in South Texas along the Gulf Coast. No drought exists in about 6 percent of Texas.

Recent rains helped ease the Dallas-Fort Worth area and other parts of Texas out of the drought.

Last year was the state's driest on record.

U.S. Drought Monitor: droughtmonitor.unl.edu

AP

Gas prices in Texas up another 2 cents

The price of gasoline in Texas has risen another 2 cents this week.

AAA Texas reported Thursday that the average price of regular unleaded gasoline is now at $3.59. The national average is also up 2 cents to $3.76.

The travel agency reports that spring break travelers in Texas will pay about $50 for a 14-gallon fill-up. That's about $2 higher than what travelers were paying a year ago .

The most expensive gas in Texas is in El Paso at $3.66. Amarillo has the least expensive average at $3.41.

AAA Texas says oil prices remained flat the past week.

AP

Egyptian women take part in town hall discussion

Former President George W. Bush's policy institute has launched a fellowship program designed to help women in the Middle East hone their leadership skills as they build a network of support.

Charity Wallace, director of the women's initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, says the goal is to "empower women to transform their countries."

The inaugural group participating in the yearlong fellowship is a diverse gathering of 14 Egyptian women.

Former first lady Laura Bush, who chairs the women's initiative, says the idea for the fellowship grew out of her husband's belief that women will lead the freedom movement.

On Thursday, she will give a keynote address before a town hall discussion with women from the program to mark International Women's Day.

AP

Jury to decide if Stanford accounts can be seized

A jury is to begin deciding if federal authorities can seize $330 million from nearly 30 accounts controlled by convicted Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford and others.

Prosecutors allege the funds are proceeds from a massive Ponzi scheme and can be traced back to investors who lost billions.

The deliberations in Houston federal court are set to begin Thursday.

They are part of a brief criminal forfeiture proceeding that ended Wednesday. It followed Stanford's conviction Tuesday by the same jury on 13 of 14 fraud-related counts for orchestrating a scheme that took more than $7 billion over 20 years from investors.

A sentencing date for Stanford is not expected to be set until after the jury decides on the forfeiture proceeding.

AP

2 children found living in abandoned bus in Texas

Child welfare officials have taken two children into custody after finding them living on their own in an abandoned bus northeast of Houston.

Montgomery County Constable Rowdy Hayden tells KTRK-TV of Houston that the children's parents are in prison for embezzling money from Hurricane Ike victims in 2008.

He says the children - ages 11 and 5 - have been living on their own, alone in the bus for at least 12 hours a day but checked on each night by a great-aunt. He says a neighbor also told investigators that she'd bring food to them occasionally.

Hayden says there was electricity in the bus and an air conditioner, but the children were dirty. No charges have been filed. Child Protective Services is investigating.

AP

Splendora is 35 miles northeast of Houston.

Forensics study in Texas focuses on vultures

Scientists at Texas State University are researching a gruesome question: How long does it take vultures to devour a human corpse?

The results are important for homicide investigators trying to determine a time and cause of death for bodies that have decomposed outdoors.

At a field several miles from campus, pathologists lay donated cadavers on the ground and watch how they decay. In one case, vultures descended on a body and reduced it to a skeleton within hours.

Experienced investigators would normally have interpreted the absence of flesh and the condition of the bones as evidence that the person had been dead for six months, possibly even a year or more. But the Texas State study is calling into question many of the benchmarks detectives have long relied on.

AP