STATE

AUSTIN (AP) — Nonprofits are welcoming Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s vow to deploy state agencies to address homelessness in the state’s capital of Austin if city officials don’t act by November. The local community organizations’ response on Thursday comes after Abbott sent Mayor Steve Adler a letter stating city officials must address “the mounting homelessness crisis in Austin,” or the state will step in.

Abbott noted the city’s June decision to largely rescind prohibitions on sitting or sleeping in public and panhandling has caused homeless encampments by roadways and the accumulation of feces and used needles.

AUSTIN (AP) — A union for Texas troopers is suing the state over a new policy that limits the size of officers’ waistlines. The Texas Department of Public Safety is implementing new fitness requirements under which male officers’ waistlines must be no more than 40 inches and women’s waists must be 35 inches or less. Those who can’t meet the standards could potentially face disciplinary action including reassignment, denied overtime or deemed ineligible for promotion, the San Antonio Express News reported. While troopers have always been subject to fitness standards, Richard Jankovsky, president of the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers, calls the new requirements demeaning.

ATLANTA (AP) — More than 45 million people across 14 Southern states are now in the midst of what’s being called a “flash drought” that’s cracking farm soil, drying up ponds and raising the risk of wildfires, scientists said Thursday. The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows extreme drought conditions in parts of Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and the Florida panhandle. Lesser drought conditions also have expanded in parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Overall, nearly 20 percent of the lower 48 U.S. states is experiencing drought conditions.

The drought accelerated rapidly in September, as record heat combined with little rainfall to worsen the parched conditions, said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska.

NATION

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two actresses have sued James Franco and the acting and film school he founded, saying the actor intimidated his students into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations.

Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, former students at Franco’s now-closed Studio 4, filed the lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Their lawsuit says Franco pushed his students into performing in increasingly explicit sex scenes on camera in an “orgy type setting.” The women say roles in Franco’s films would be dangled to those who went along.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The ancestral remains of Native American tribes that once called the cliffs of Mesa Verde National Park home will be repatriated as part of an agreement between Finland and the United States.

The White House on Wednesday announced the agreement involving the remains of about 20 people and 28 funerary objects taken from the Mesa Verde area more than 100 years ago. The remains and artifacts were unearthed during excavations by a Swedish researcher in 1891 and hundreds of items eventually became part of the collection of the National Museum of Finland.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles says it’s acquired an Italian Renaissance masterpiece and a pair of Gothic sculptures it ranks among the greatest works in its collection. The Getty Thursday says it bought a 16th century painting by Agnolo Bronzino called “Virgin and Child With Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist.” It’s on display beginning this month.

The museum says the painting has been in private collections and hasn’t been on public view for centuries.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s northern fur seal population for three decades has been classified as depleted, but the marine mammals are showing up in growing numbers at an unlikely location: a tiny island that forms the tip of an active undersea volcano. Vents on Bogoslof Island continue to spew mud, steam and sulfurous gases two years after an eruption sent ash clouds into the path of jetliners passing over the Bering Sea. Still, northern fur seal moms find the remote island’s rocky beaches perfect for giving birth and mothering pups.

WORLD

BRUSSELS (AP) — The trade wars threatening to push the global economy into recession are entering a new phase, with the United States and European Union escalating a dispute that endangers the world’s biggest trade relationship. After the Trump administration slapped steep tariffs on $7.5 billion in EU goods, mainly traditional produce like cheese and wine, the Europeans made clear they would retaliate in kind. Some fear the tariffs could ultimately lead to U.S. taxes on European cars, a big economic blow that Trump has been threatening to deliver for months.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Marcel Cineus scanned the crowd for hints of a potential customer as people bustled past his wooden stall filled with hundreds of textbooks in the hills of Port-au-Prince. School was supposed to start in early September, and Cineus by now would have sold a couple hundred books. But violent protests have shuttered public schools and businesses and left Haiti’s economy sputtering and inflation ballooning as the opposition demands the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse.