Fri April 20, 2012
Texas Toll Road Account-Holders Wrongly Charged
More than 1,600 account holders in the Texas Department of Transportation toll road system can expect a credit following a cyber-attack.
The agency has told the Austin American-Statesman that customer accounts are secure and a total of $46,000 will be credited. Authorities are trying to identify hackers who from April 6 through April 8 slowed the toll system.
Error messages misled customers who were trying to put more money into their tag accounts, causing them to do several transactions instead of just one. Some accounts ended up being charged more than the necessary amount.
TxDOT spokeswoman Karen Amacker said Thursday that no action is necessary by customers to get the account credit. She says electronic refunds should be completed in a few days.
Texas Education Board approves new math curriculum
The State Board of Education has unanimously approved new K-12 math curriculum standards.
Members adopted the requirements with little debate or fanfare Friday, despite concerns from an influential state business group and others that they were not strenuous enough or otherwise flawed.
Texas is one of just five states that haven't adopted national standards in math and language arts in recent years, and has instead sought to devise its own set of stronger standards.
The new, 10-year kindergarten through eighth grade math requirements are expected to take effect in 2014. High school standards should begin the following year.
The Texas Association of Business was among those that opposed the new math curriculum, arguing that they don't place enough focus on basics like algebra.
FBI: Club owner ordered killing of Texas mayor
An FBI agent has testified that a topless club owner accused of trying to organize the contract killing of a Texas mayor gave the order by saying, "Let's do the mayor. Let's hit him tomorrow."
The testimony Friday came before a federal magistrate ruled that Ryan Walker Grant remain held without bond. Grant is accused of orchestrating a plot against Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck and a city attorney.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that FBI Special Agent Matthew Wilkins said Grant gave the order to an informant.
An attorney for Grant questioned whether the informant, a convicted felon, had selfish motives. The attorney also said "no overt" actions were taken against Cluck or attorney Tom Brandt.
Authorities say Grant plotted the attack over a dispute about reopening his club.
US Airways makes deals with 3 AMR unions
US Airways Group Inc. says it has made deals with the three unions at American Airlines.
The contracts would cover American Airlines workers if there's a merger with US Airways. However, US Airways says no deal on a merger has been made.
American is reorganizing under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Its executives have said they want to emerge from bankruptcy as a stand-alone airline.
US Airways says the deals are with the Transport Workers Union,the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, and the Allied Pilots Association.
Man held in deadly immigrant smuggling case
A sixth person facing federal charges for his alleged involvement in an illegal immigrant smuggling ring in which nine Mexican citizens died in a van crash will be held pending trial.
Carmelo Diaz Gopar waived his preliminary hearings Friday and was ordered held by U.S. District Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby.
Authorities say Diaz ran from a minivan after it was pulled over by Border Patrol on April 10. Agents detained him but the van sped off and overturned several blocks away, scattering Mexican immigrants across the site.
Diaz, who is a Mexican citizen, was charged with harboring illegal immigrants. Five others were being held on similar charges. The 15-year-old driver of the van faces nine counts of state felony murder among other charges.
Austin to unveil monument to Willie Nelson
Country music legend Willie Nelson is expected to help unveil an 8-foot statue of himself in Austin.
The privately funded monument near a new music hall shows a relaxed Nelson holding a guitar. It will be dedicated on April 20, or 4/20, which happens to be slang for smoking marijuana. Nelson is a well-known advocate of legalizing marijuana and has been arrested several times for possessing it.
Capital Area Statues Inc. raised money for the statue. This is the third large-scale statue from the group, which is made up of prominent Texas writers, producers and musicians.
Lawrence Wright said the date was originally chosen because Nelson was scheduled to perform in Austin that night, but once the counterculture reference became clear, the group embraced it.