HOUSTON (AP) — Two former members of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct said they believe Texas Gov. Greg Abbott removed them from the panel because he disagreed with them over a same-sex marriage case.
Abbott, a Republican, had appointed Amy Suhl and Maricela Alvarado to the commission in June of last year but pulled their names when it came time for the Texas Senate to confirm them nine months later. They told the Houston Chronicle that they were told the governor had simply decided to proceed in a different direction, but they said they believe he ousted them because they voted to warn a Waco judge who officiates over opposite-sex marriages but refuses to perform same-sex marriages.
Suhl recorded a meeting with Abbott’s staff and a later telephone call. The recordings, which were reviewed by the Chronicle, indicate that Abbott aides were advising her to act with Abbott’s views in mind.
As with other Texas Republican leaders, Abbott champions the rights of Texans to practice their faith on the job and in public service. That has conflicted with the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender Texans.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — At least 13 people died and about two dozen more were injured Thursday when a bus crashed in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
The chief of firefighters and civil defense for the town of Saucillo told El Heraldo de Juarez that the accident was reported before dawn. He said the vehicle was traveling from the border city of Ciudad Juarez to Torreon and that authorities did not yet know what caused the crash.
The official said 10 passengers died at the scene and some 28 were hurt. El Heraldo did not name him but posted video of the interview.
Chihuahua state Gov. Javier Corral said later that the death toll had risen to 13 after three more people died at hospitals.
GALVESTON (AP) — The teenager accused of fatally shooting 10 people at a Texas high school was moved to state mental health hospital Thursday after a judge ruled last month that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial. Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 19, has been transferred from the county jail in Galveston to the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, according to Katy-Marie Lyles, one of his attorneys.
Lyles said she’s happy he was admitted to the hospital so quickly as there is a waiting list for such facilities. Pagourtzis will be at the hospital for up to four months, she said.
A medical team working with Pagourtzis’ legal team will consult with the hospital to monitor his progress during treatment, Lyles said.
DALLAS (AP) — The Homeland Security Department is backing away from requiring that U.S. citizens submit to facial-recognition technology when they leave or enter the country.
The department said Thursday that it has no plans to expand facial recognition to U.S. citizens. A spokesman said DHS will delete the idea from its regulatory agenda, where privacy advocates spotted it this week.
The advocates and lawmakers accused DHS of reneging on repeated promises not to force American citizens to be photographed leaving or entering the United States, a process that is required for foreign visitors.
Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., called the administration’s retreat “a victory for every single American traveler who flies on a plane.” He credited public pressure for the about-face. He said, however, that he still plans to introduce legislation to ban biometric surveillance of Americans.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The laws are still on the books in Virginia: Blacks and whites must sit in separate rail cars. They cannot use the same playgrounds, schools or mental hospitals. They can’t marry each other either.
The measures have not been enforced for decades, but they remain in the state’s official legal record. A state commission on Thursday recommended that dozens of such discriminatory statutes finally be repealed, in some cases more than a century after they were adopted.
Although “some of these acts were rendered null and void by an amended Virginia Constitution, by landmark civil rights cases or legislation, it’s clear that they are vestiges of Virginia’s segregationist past that still sit on the books. ... We should not afford them the distinction of that official status,” said Chief Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Hudson, who led the panel of attorneys, judges, scholars and community leaders assigned to comb through the laws.
BERLIN (AP) — A study commissioned by 14 seafaring nations predicts that unchecked climate change could devastate fishery industries and coral reef tourism, causing hundreds of billions of dollars in losses by 2050.
The report to be published Friday on sidelines of a U.N. climate summit in Madrid says limiting global warming would lessen the economic impact for coastal countries but they also need to adapt to ocean changes.
The authors say fish will migrate to cooler waters as oceans heat up and become more acidic, jeopardizing some fishing communities.
While regions near the equator will suffer fish stock declines, the report forecasts increases in Arctic and Antarctic Oceans.
VIENNA (AP) — The countries that make up the OPEC oil-producing cartel ended talks late Thursday without an announcement on possible deep cuts to production that would support the price of fuel around the world.
An OPEC spokesman told waiting journalists at 10 p.m. that an expected news conference would not take place and that a written statement might come later. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, and other officials then left the meeting without announcing any deal.
OPEC’s members have been expected to prolong production cuts that they agreed on for the past three years, while Russia’s energy minister said that even deeper cuts were under discussion. The price of crude has been held down in recent years by a resurgence in supplies from countries outside OPEC, particularly the United States.