HOUSTON (ABC/Staff) — Every shopper is urged to beware of criminal activities or possible violence at crowded stores following a scary incident at Houston’s Willowbrook Mall Friday afternoon. One male was stabbed and another shot. Houston police Sergeant Richard Rodriguez says it’s important to remember that criminals are out shopping too. He says, “Don’t leave stuff out in the open. If you go out shopping, maybe try to go in a group..There’s safety in numbers, but definitely don’t leave your stuff in the car.” Both victims were flown to a hospital; their condition wasn’t immediately known.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — U.S. diplomats are demanding that Venezuela give them immediate access to jailed oil executives who hold American passports. The State Department said in a statement Friday that the U.S. Embassy in Caracas made the request to the government under international law. It follows this week’s arrest of six high-ranking executives from Citgo, a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela’s state oil company. Venezuela accuses them of embezzlement stemming from a $4 billion deal to refinance bonds. Five of the six Venezuelan executives have dual U.S. citizenship. Oil-rich Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, yet low crude prices plunged the country into financial crisis. The international scuffle could further strain relations between the Trump administration and Venezuela as socialist President Nicolas Maduro tries to refinance billions in foreign debt amid U.S. sanctions.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP/Staff) – A festive holiday train kicks off its trip through Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. After beginning its journey in Victoria, Texas, the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express Train makes stops in 20 cities. The trip will end Dec. 15 at Union Station in Kansas City, where the six-car train will remain on display through Dec. 19. It features a smiling tank car dubbed “Rudy,” a gingerbread boxcar, a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, plus a reindeer stable and a miniature village. There’s also an elves’ workshop and even a little red caboose. Guests get to visit Santa and tour the train.
OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) – A team of 21 scientists will conduct a study to estimate the number of red snapper in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Sun Herald reports that the panel of researchers from universities and state and federal agencies was convened by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, and awarded $9.5 million in federal funds. The project will receive another $2.5 million from the universities. In a news release last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross highlighted the importance of access to and long-term sustainability of red snapper to Gulf communities. Project leader Greg Stunz of Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, says the scientists hope to work with local fishermen. Area fishermen have long criticized federal estimates of red snapper, saying they result in unnecessarily short seasons.
FORT WORTH (AP) – A Texas woman is accused of sending homemade bombs to President Barack Obama and Texas Governor Greg Abbott in 2016 that prosecutors say could have maimed or killed the two leaders. Court documents filed in district court in Houston last week show Julia Poff was indicted earlier this month on six counts, including mailing injurious articles and transporting explosives with the intent to kill and injure. Records show the 46-year-old woman is being held at the Houston federal detention center. Federal investigators traced the improvised explosive device sent to Obama to Poff because of some cat hair found under an address label. The device contained a cellphone, a cigarette package and a salad dressing cap. Poff’s attorney, Ashley Kaper, declined to talk to an Associated Press reporter Friday.