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Tue July 10, 2012
Texas Switches To 1-Drug Execution
Texas prison officials are changing the way they do executions due to a drug shortage.
Texas has been using the sedative pentobarbital in combination with two other drugs.
But the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday that it will now use pentobarbital by itself.
Department spokesman Jason Clark says the agency changed its protocol Monday because its stock of one of the other drugs expired.
Pentobarbital also is in short supply as its maker stopped selling it for executions last year. Texas officials said in May that the state had enough doses for 23 executions.
Texas began using pentobarbital last year to replace sodium thiopental, which became unavailable when its European supplier stopped making it under pressure from death penalty opponents.
Official: Texas Electric Supply Will Be Tight
The president of the Texas electric grid says the state barely has enough electric supply to meet demand this summer.
Trip Doggett told lawmakers Tuesday morning that any unexpected drop in generation or spike in demand could lead to rolling blackouts.
ERCOT is responsible for managing the state's electric grid, while private companies generate the electricity. Many of those companies have complained in recent years that Texans don't pay enough for electricity for them to invest in new generation plants. Last month the Public Utility Commission raised rates to encourage more electricity generation.
Doggett said that electric supply will be tight this summer and warned the agency would likely declare Energy Emergency Alerts asking consumers to cut back on electricity use. But blackouts would only result if a plant shutdown.
Trial continues as Texas argues for voter ID law
A trial looking at whether a recently passed Texas voter ID law violates the federal Voting Rights Act continues with Texas calling witnesses to support its case.
Trial continues Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., as the state argues the law doesn't disproportionately affect minority voters and should be allowed. Lawyers for Texas hope to a three-judge panel that the law - which requires all voters in Texas to show photo identification at the polls - doesn't violate the federal law.
The Justice Department and several outside groups contend the law is discriminatory and should be thrown out under the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965 as a safeguard for minority voting rights.
AG says Texas ID law would harm minorities
Attorney General Eric Holder says he opposes a new photo ID requirement in Texas elections because it would be harmful to minority voters.
In remarks to the NAACP in Houston, the attorney general says the Justice Department will not allow American citizens to be disenfranchised from their right to vote.
The attorney general says many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them and that some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them.
Holder made the comments amid a trial in federal court in Washington over the 2011 law passed by Texas' GOP-dominated Legislature that requires voters to show photo identification when they get to the polls.
North Texas records another minor earthquake
Experts say North Texas has had another minor earthquake.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the 2.4 magnitude quake happened at 2:22 a.m. Tuesday.
The earthquake was centered about a mile southwest of Keene, in Johnson County. The area is about 25 miles south of Fort Worth.
No injuries or damage were immediately reported.
USGS says a 2.7 magnitude quake was recorded Friday morning about 3 miles east-northeast of Keene.
Ex-federal guard in Texas had sex with prisoner
A former federal prison guard in North Texas who had sex with an inmate faces up to 15 years behind bars.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Monday that court documents indicate Michele L. O'Neal used her keys to enter a locked area to reach the inmate.
The sexual encounter happened in May 2011 in a basement at the Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution. O'Neal resigned the following month after being questioned by investigators.
She was indicted in February on a charge of sexual abuse of a ward. Defense attorney Alex Tandy says he has no information on why O'Neal in April changed her plea to guilty. Sentencing has been set for October.
The inmate was serving time for arson. Further details on the prisoner weren't immediately released.
Study links global warming to Texas heat waves
New research suggests that global warming increases the chances of heat waves in Texas, like the one that hit the state last year.
The government also confirmed Tuesday that 2011 was among the 15 warmest years on record.
Texas had record heat and drought last year. Part of the problem was a weather pattern called La Nina, which contributed to drought across the South. Scientists in Oregon and England used computer simulations to estimate how much more likely such Texas heat waves are because of global warming. Their preliminary answer: In years with a La Nina, about 20 times more likely than in the 1960s.
Other researchers calculated that in central England, a warm November like last year's is now about 62 times more likely than in the 1960s.