Category: State News
HOUSTON (AP) — The family of a Texas man who might be the latest victim of exploding automobile air bags made by Takata Corp. of Japan has filed a lawsuit in connection with his death. The lawsuit alleges Carlos Solis, 35, died on January 18 in a minor crash in a Houston suburb when an air bag in his 2002 Honda Accord inflated and sent a piece of metal into his neck. A final autopsy report has not been completed. In addition to Takata, also named in the lawsuit filed Tuesday are Honda Motor Co., its American subsidiary, as well as the Houston-area car dealership that sold Solis the used vehicle in 2014. A spokesman for Honda declined to comment on the lawsuit. A Takata spokesman did not immediately return an email.
MIDLAND (AP) — A Midland judge says he will rule next week on a motion from Union Pacific Railroad to end the civil trial involving people who were hurt or whose family members died when a freight train struck a veterans parade float. State District Judge James Rush said Friday that attorneys for the railroad filed the motion for summary judgment Thursday. He said attorneys for the 17 plaintiffs were expected to file a response Monday. Rush told the Associated Press he’ll “rule accordingly after I receive and review everything.” Messages seeking comment from attorneys for Union Pacific Railroad and the plaintiffs’ attorneys were not immediately returned Friday. The 2012 crash killed four veterans and injured about a dozen. Twenty-six people reached a confidential settlement this month with Union Pacific.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A military jury has sentenced a U.S. Air Force instructor to 20 years in prison for raping two women, including a recruit he was training two decades ago at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. The San Antonio Express-News reports the jury sentenced Air Force Master Sergeant Michael Silva on Friday, a day after finding him guilty in a 2007 rape of a woman in Wyoming and a recruit in 1995. He could have been sentenced to up to life in prison without parole. Silva had been charged with raping three women. He was found not guilty in a rape that prosecutors said occurred in North Carolina in the early 1990s. Dozens of instructors at Lackland have been accused of raping, sexually assaulting and abusing trainees.
IRVING, Texas (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corporation has updated its corporate policies to protect employees from discrimination for sexual orientation or gender identity. Spokesman Allan Jeffers said Friday that the Irving-based oil giant added these protections to comply with federal law. In July, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that expanded protections for gay and transgender employees of federal contractors. Exxon Mobil, which has federal contracts worth millions of dollars, had said it would comply with the order but wouldn’t say if it would formalize that with revised corporate policies. The company had maintained that its stated zero-tolerance standards ensured protections without having to specify them. Deena Fidas of the Human Rights Campaign called the update a “calibrated response” to maintain Exxon’s federal contracts.
AUSTIN (AP) — Republican Governor Greg Abbott says he is declaring February 2nd as “Chris Kyle Day” in Texas to honor the late U.S. serviceman whose life is depicted in the blockbuster film “American Sniper.” Abbott made the announcement Friday while speaking to a Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Austin. Hundreds of veterans in a hotel ballroom greeted the news with a standing ovation. Kyle’s hometown was Midlothian, located southwest of Dallas. He was 37 when he was killed in 2013 at a North Texas gun range. A former Marine Corps serviceman charged in his death goes on trial in Stephenville next month. Abbott said the state will commemorate Kyle’s life on Monday. Kyle did four tours in Iraq and is considered to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history.
DALLAS (AP) — The Texas education commissioner says the North Texas academy co-founded by NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders remains in financial disarray and will close immediately. Commissioner Michael Williams says in a statement that a state-appointed board of managers voted Friday to close the Dallas and Fort Worth campuses of Prime Prep Academy. Williams says the hope was that the charter could survive through the academic year, but “the financial resources simply aren’t there.” He says the “upheaval” of finding other schools for hundreds of students could have been avoided had academy leaders earlier “acknowledged their financial issues.” An administrative judge earlier this week granted a default judgment that effectively revoked the school’s state charter. The academy was awarded the charter in 2011 and it opened to students a year later.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A diaper-wearing monkey named Louie has been put into quarantine for 30 days after biting a San Antonio banker during an outing with his owner. Officials with Animal Care Services in San Antonio say the owner faces fines of up to $2,000 for having the year-old Macaque. San Antonio law bars primates within the city limits. Agency officials say Louie was removed from a San Antonio home on Thursday. Officials say the exotic monkey was on a leash last week at a bank, but the owner allegedly allowed the animal to interact with the humans before the worker was bitten. The owner has to pay for Louie’s month of care and testing for rabies.
FORT WORTH (AP) — A judge says a funeral home that sold Lee Harvey Oswald’s pine casket for $87,468 must return it to the accused presidential assassin’s brother. Robert Oswald bought the pine bluff casket for his brother. It was exhumed in 1981 amid conspiracy theories that it didn’t contain Lee Harvey Oswald’s body. After a Dallas hospital confirmed the body through dental records, it was reburied, but not in the original casket, which was too water-damaged. Oswald’s family says it thought the original casket had been thrown away, but the funeral home actually kept it in storage before selling it at auction. The auction house still has the coffin, because the lawsuit had put the sale on hold. A judge Friday also ordered the funeral home to pay Robert Oswald $87,468 in damages.
AUSTIN (AP) — Republican Governor Greg Abbott says “we must have civil discourse” after a freshman Texas lawmaker instructed her staff to ask visiting Muslims to declare their allegiance to America. Abbott on Friday didn’t specifically mention Republican state Representative Molly White. She drew widespread criticism Thursday after putting an Israeli flag in her Capitol office and telling aides they should ask Muslims to renounce Islamic terrorist groups. White publicized her plans on Facebook before hundreds of Muslims arrived at the Capitol for their biennial lobbying day. Abbott said Texas values are “strong enough to have an open debate” when asked about White’s actions. Republican House Speaker Joe Straus has made a more pointed rebuke. He said legislators have a responsibility to treat visitors with “dignity and respect” without calling out White directly.
AUSTIN (AP) — New Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is lending star power to a rally supporting school vouchers and charter school proposals that previously stalled in the Legislature. Bush told a gathering outside the state Capitol on Friday that “some schools don’t work and refuse to change.” His office oversees the nation’s largest educational endowment, which helps fund school districts statewide. Organizers promised the “largest-ever” rally on the issue, but fewer than 1,000 supporters showed. Last session, Texas lawmakers overhauled education, including drastically expanding charter schools. New Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and other top conservatives say vouchers, which funnel state money to private schools, are a top priority. But they may face long odds. Such proposals have previously failed amid bipartisan support to keep public funding with public schools. Abbott urges civility after Texas lawmaker’s Muslim remarks