DALLAS (AP) – Texas Congressman Joe Barton is apologizing after a nude photo of him circulated on social media. Barton released a statement Wednesday to the Texas Tribune acknowledging that while separated from his second wife, prior to their divorce, he had sexual relationships “with other mature adult women.” The 68-year-old Republican from Ennis says each relationship was consensual and has since ended. He says, “I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.” Barton announced his re-election bid this month. The photo appeared on an anonymous Twitter account. His spokeswoman told The Dallas Morning News that Barton has no plans to step down. Barton joined the U.S. House in 1985. He’s the longest-serving member of Congress from Texas.
AUSTIN (AP) – A federal judge has blocked a new Texas law seeking to ban a commonly used second-trimester abortion method. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel extended indefinitely a temporary ban he’d previously issued. That overturns – at least for now – a state law that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed in June banning the procedure known as dilation and evacuation. Texas is set to appeal, but federal courts in at least four other states already had blocked similar laws. Yeakel’s ruling Wednesday followed a trial early this fall where he heard arguments from Texas and from abortion rights groups who argue that the law is unconstitutional. It’s the latest in a string of court defeats for the Texas Legislature’s efforts to make abortion as difficult to undergo in the state as possible.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ordering a far-ranging review of the FBI database containing information for use in background checks on prospective gun buyers. The move Wednesday comes after the Air Force acknowledged that a man who killed more than two dozen people in a south Texas church should have had his name and domestic violence conviction submitted to the database. That might have prevented him from buying guns. In a memo, Sessions directed the FBI and ATF to determine if other government agencies are failing to report information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. He also wants a report detailing the number of times the agencies investigate people for lying on their gun-purchase applications. The Pentagon’s inspector general is separately reviewing the case of the Texas gunman.
HOUSTON (AP) – Residents across the Houston area are starting to wrap up the monthslong effort of removing debris created by Hurricane Harvey. The Houston Chronicle reports that local counties and cities have been working with contractors and the Texas Transportation Department to haul away piles of trash from in front of peoples’ homes in the three months since Harvey hit and unleashed record flooding. Several jurisdictions plan to finish debris removal at least by Christmas. Harris County officials say they’d hoped to finish by Thanksgiving, but the county came across more debris than expected on a third and final pass through neighborhoods. Crews had picked up more than a million cubic yards of trash, or about 26,000 truckloads, as of mid-November.
HOUSTON (AP) – Almost three months after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, killing more than 80 people and damaging at least 200,000 homes, residents of the Texas Gulf Coast are celebrating Thanksgiving however they can. Some people are gathering at churches that have held large meals for people displaced by the storm and volunteers spending the holiday away from their families to help rebuild. Others will go to annual events like Houston’s “Super Feast.” George and Arva Dorsey’s home is still gutted out, so they won’t be able to serve their normal 18-dish feast. Arva Dorsey says she’s trying to keep her head up and maintain her faith in God. They are still considering whether to eat at a restaurant or at the home of a friend who took them in.
AUSTIN (AP) – Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says “it’s great to be alive” this Thanksgiving. Ridge issued a statement Wednesday from the hospital in Austin, where he’s recovering from a heart attack. He says he’s thankful for the “outpouring of love and concern” after his health emergency. He says he’s filled with gratitude, even though his doctors won’t let him touch turkey and mashed potatoes. He had been attending a Republican Governors Association conference last week when he called for medical help at his hotel. The Republican served two terms as Pennsylvania governor from 1995 to 2001. He was the first homeland security secretary, serving under President George W. Bush until 2005. A statement on Monday said Ridge was in intensive care. It wasn’t clear if he remains there.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The deaths of at least four fraternity pledges this year have helped fuel a re-examination of Greek life at U.S. colleges. More and more schools are hitting pause on the organizations as they grapple with how to prevent hazing, alcohol misuse and other misconduct. The move comes after pledges died at Florida State, Texas State, Penn State and Louisiana State universities. Twenty-six people are charged in the Penn State case over the death of a 19-year-old student. At Louisiana State, 10 people were arrested on misdemeanor hazing charges in the alcohol-related death of an 18-year-old student, and one person also was charged with felony negligent homicide. Fraternities say that they’ve long worked to tackle hazing and alcohol abuse, and that considering whether further changes are needed is part of that.
BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) – A year of events marking the 100th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth draws to a close exactly 54 years after his assassination. National park rangers laid a wreath outside Kennedy’s childhood home in Brookline, Massachusetts, on Wednesday. The wreath-laying was followed by a 21-gun salute by an honor guard. The solemn commemorations fall on the anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. The observances were held at what is now known as the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service. The nation’s 35th president was born in the leafy Boston suburb on May 29, 1917. Over the past year, numerous conferences and other events have been held worldwide to examine JFK’s legacy and imagine his impact had he survived.
CORINTH (AP) – Police say a college student was found shot to death inside a car off Interstate 35 in North Texas. Corinth police say the body of 21-year-old Amanda Clairmont was found early Sunday morning. Police say her death is being investigated as a homicide. Police said officers had stopped to check on the car after seeing it parked in a vacant lot along the highway service road. University of North Texas officials have said she was a senior business major at the school, which is located in nearby Denton.
COPPELL (AP) – Texas and nationwide gasoline prices declined this week. AAA Texas on Tuesday reported the average price at the pump statewide was $2.28 per gallon, while gasoline prices nationally averaged $2.53 per gallon. Both are 3 cents less than last week. The association survey found San Antonio has the cheapest gasoline in Texas this week at an average $2.20 per gallon. Drivers in El Paso face the highest gasoline prices statewide at $2.45 per gallon. The cheapest gasoline is found in San Antonio, where regular averages $2.19 per gallon. The most expensive is found in El Paso, where regular averages $2.44 per gallon. The auto club projects more than 3.6 million Texans will travel more than 50 miles by car this Thanksgiving holiday. That’s the most in 12 years.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Authorities have dismissed one criminal case against a woman accused of abusing her elderly mother during protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. 59-year-old Kathleen Bennett was accused of leaving her 82-year-old mother with dementia tied to a chair in a protest camp. The woman was taken to a hospital during a blizzard last December. Bennett earlier this year pleaded not guilty to endangering a vulnerable adult. The Bismarck Tribune reports that the defense and prosecution agreed Tuesday to dismiss the case with $2,050 in fines. Authorities said Bennett is in Nevada with limited funds, and there also were difficulties with getting witnesses for a trial next week. Bennett also is charged with exploiting her mother by using $1,200 of her money without consent. That case is set for trial in January. The pipeline was built by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners.