FBI Takes Over Plano Bomb Case | KERA News

FBI Takes Over Plano Bomb Case

The FBI and the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force are now in charge of the investigation of a possible bombing attempt in Plano.

A man was critically injured by what police believe was a homemade explosive late Monday night. He was found near an Atmos natural gas line.

In a statement, the FBI says there is “no current threat to public safety related to this incident.” Agents are not saying what they may have found during a search of the man’s house, nor are they identifying the suspect.

The statement says the FBI will present facts of the investigation to the US Attorney’s office for possible charges.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Texas lawmakers pan first year of STAAR test

Education leaders in the Texas House are airing grievances and raising long-term questions about the state's new standardized test.

But they also have acknowledged that growing pains are common when implementing a new statewide academic testing system.

The House Public Education Committee spent hours Tuesday scrutinizing the test known as STAAR.

Much of the discussion focused on just how poorly the first round of ninth graders to take the test did.

Final test standards are being implemented gradually through 2016. But if they were in place today, more than half of Texas high school freshmen would have failed in five key areas.

For instance, when ninth-graders' scores were judged against final standards, the biology passing rate was 41 percent. It was 39 percent for algebra.


Judge bars Fort Hood shooting suspect from hearing

A judge has barred an Army psychiatrist charged in a deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood from military court because he still has a beard.

Maj. Nidal Hasan was told Tuesday that he couldn't attend any more hearings unless he shaves. The judge, Col. Gregory Gross, initially warned Hasan that he was violating Army policy at a hearing earlier this month.

Hasan was removed from court and was to watch the rest of Tuesday's proceedings on closed-circuit television from a nearby room.

Lead defense attorney Lt. Col. Kris Poppe says Hasan grew the beard as a "deeply sincere" expression of his Islamic faith and because he has a premonition he will die soon.

Hasan faces the death penalty in the 2009 attack that killed 13 people in Texas.


Chesapeake lays off 70

Chesapeake Energy says it will lay off 70 North Texas workers because of historically low gas prices. That amounts to 8 percent of its Fort Worth and Cleburne workforce. The company says other employees will be transferred to its Oklahoma City headquarters while 700 will stay here. Texas.

Workers in Fort Worth’s Chesapeake Plaza will move to another building. The company hopes to lease Plaza space to others, but Chesapeake says it would also consider an offer to buy.

Chesapeake is one of the top drillers in the Barnett Shale, but runs only two rigs now, with no more in the foreseeable future. By comparison, Chesapeake operated 44 rigs just four years ago.

Bill Zeeble, KERA News

Plano East High School Winner

Plano East High School student Kevin Nguyen took 4th place and $1,000 in the science competition called the International BioGENEius Challenge.  

Nguyen was among 17 high school competitors from the U.S., Canada and Australia who showed an exemplary understanding of biotechnology and science.

Nguyen’s project involved specialized sutures that deliver certain molecules to heal wounds. The contest is sponsored and funded in part by several global drug companies. 

Bill Zeeble, KERA News

Southwest Loses Top Customer Satisfaction Spot

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has been bumped from the top spot in customer satisfaction. Jet Blue has taken over as #1 in the 2012 American Customer Satisfaction Index. Southwest held the top spot for 18 years.

Index officials blame the drop to second place on Southwest’s merger with AirTran. They say customer satisfaction typically drops after a merger.

The new Satisfaction Index says customers are happier with the major airlines. Overall satisfaction matches its best level in ten years.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas City Hall Looks To Revamp Municipal Court Operations

Some Dallas City Council members want to have new guidelines for municipal court in place before selecting 11 judges and more than a dozen alternates.

Council member Angela Hunt says a new report makes it clear that the city’s court system lags way behind in assessing and collecting fines – costing the city millions in potential revenue each year.

Hunt: It is remarkable to me that we are at the tail end. You know, we’re collecting $41.49 per case. Our neighbor Irving is collecting $104 dollars per case. That is significant.

The report says judges set fines too low; give too much credit for time served and too few consequences for ignoring a traffic ticket, or misdemeanor citation.

In past skirmishes, municipal judges have vigorously defended their independence from City Hall. Council member Hunt says the recommended guidelines are about best practices, not quotas.

August 30th is the deadline for judge selection, or the current slate is automatically reappointed for another two years.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Auto designer Shelby's family in burial dispute

Celebrated auto designer and race car driver Carroll Shelby's family is fighting over custody of his body more than a month after his death.

Shelby died May 10 in a Dallas hospital. But his body remains in a Dallas County morgue as his wife and children fight in court about burial plans.

Shelby's children say in court documents filed in Texas that the 89-year-old Shelby gave his son Michael authority shortly before his death to have his remains cremated.

But Shelby's wife counters the document was forged. Cleo Shelby, who lives in California, says in a court filing that Shelby gave her power of attorney two years ago.

Another of Carroll Shelby's sons, Patrick, told The Associated Press on Tuesday he expects the dispute to take weeks to be resolved.


US sues to force return of dinosaur to Mongolia

The U.S. government has filed a lawsuit in New York to force the return to Mongolia of a dinosaur fossil worth more than $1 million.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says the nearly complete Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton was allegedly stolen from Mongolia and brought to the U.S. with false claims that it originated in Great Britain and was worth $15,000. It sold at auction for more than $1 million.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, names Dallas-based Heritage Auctions a defendant. Company cofounder Jim Halperin says the skeleton was sold conditional on the outcome of litigation "so this matter is now in the hands of lawyers and politicians." He believes the seller was acting in good faith.

Experts say the skeleton was discovered in the Gobi Desert between 1995 and 2005.