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September 24, 2018 - 12:00 am

TEXAS PRISONS-DENTURES

Texas prisons often deny dentures to inmates with no teeth

HOUSTON (AP) — Inmates without teeth in Texas are routinely denied dentures because state prison policy says chewing isn't a medical necessity and that they can eat blended food.

The Houston Chronicle reports that medical providers approved 71 dentures to a state prison population of more than 149,000 in 2016. It's a sharp decline from 15 years ago, when more than 1,000 dental prosthetics were approved.

Many inmates are elderly, have a history of drug use or came from impoverished backgrounds with sub-par dental care.

State policy says inmates can't get dentures unless they're underweight or suffering from other medical complications.

Death row inmate Paul Devoe soaks crackers in coffee to eat them with his three remaining teeth. Devoe and other inmates have complained about bleeding gums, sore mouths, choking and being unable to eat.

AP-US-3D-GUN-LAWSUIT

3D gun advocate accused of sex with minor freed on bond

HOUSTON (AP) — The owner of a Texas company that sells plans to make untraceable 3-D printed guns is free on bond after being accused by authorities of having sex with an underage girl.

Jail records show 30-year-old Cody Wilson was freed Sunday evening from the Harris County Jail in Houston after posting a $150,000 bond.

Wilson was brought back to the U.S. after being arrested in Taiwan following accusations he paid a 16-year-old girl $500 to have sex with her in Austin. He was arrested Friday in Taiwan.

Wilson's attorney, Samy Khalil, said in a statement Sunday night that the focus is on preparing Wilson's defense.

Future court hearings will be in Austin.

Wilson owns Austin-based Defense Distributed, which was selling designs to make 3D-printable guns .

SCHOOL CLOSED-THREAT

Texas school closed after social media threat discovered

COLUMBUS, Texas (AP) — A Texas school district is closed after a threat was made against the district on social media.

The Columbus Independent School District says in a post on its website that the school will be closed Monday after the threat was discovered shortly before midnight Sunday.

The nature of the threat was not disclosed. The post said students saw the post and notified their parents and school officials.

The school says local law enforcement is investigating and school officials are cooperating.

Columbus is about 70 miles (113 kilometers) west of Houston.

KEYSTONE PIPELINE-NEBRASKA

Keystone XL developer plans to start construction in 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The developer of the Keystone XL oil pipeline says it plans to start construction next year, after the U.S. State Department concluded major environmental damage from a leak is unlikely and could quickly be mitigated.

TransCanada spokesman Matthew John said Monday that the company remains committed to moving ahead with the project following years of reviews from federal and state regulators.

But the report issued Friday from the Trump administration's State Department drew sharp criticism from environmental groups. They say they'll continue to fight the project they view as an environmental threat.

The report says the pipeline would have a "negligible to moderate" environmental impact under its normal operations, and continuous monitoring and the company's response plan would mitigate the effects of any spill.

WILLIAMS COUNTY FATALITIES

2 killed, 2 injured in 3-vehicle Williams County crash

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Highway Patrol says two people died in a three-vehicle crash in Williams County.

The patrol says a westbound Dodge Ram pickup truck crossed the center line on Highway 2 and hit a GMC Sierra pickup about 2 a.m. Sunday near Williston. An approaching semi then struck the Dodge Ram.

The Dodge Ram's driver, 24-year-old Gilberto Gomez Jr., of Donna, Texas, and a passenger in GMC, 45-year-old Rosa Aguayo, of San Bernardino, California, were killed. The driver of the GMC and the driver of the semi were injured and taken to the hospital.

SOLDIER'S BODY FOUND

Troopers find Fort Wainwright soldier's body in car

(Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com)

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska State Troopers say they found the body of a Fort Wainwright soldier who had been missing for nearly a week.

The Fairbanks Daily News Miner reports Alaska State Troopers were at Harding Lake on Saturday investigating a report of an apparently abandoned vehicle.

A statement by the Alaska State Troopers says the vehicle belonged to Mason Heimer. His body was found in the vehicle.

Troopers say no foul play is suspected.

Heimer's next of kin has been notified. His body has been sent to the Alaska State Medical Examiner's office for an autopsy.

Heimer's father, Doug, travelled from Texas to help local law enforcement agencies look for his 22-year-old son.

He says Heimer lived on Fort Wainwright, where he was a construction engineer and had been stationed for eight months.

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ELECTION 2018-GOVERNORS

In governor's races, Trump emerges as a defining issue

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Governor's races are on the ballot in 36 states this year, and the common thread running through many of them has nothing to do with state policy: It's President Donald Trump.

Most of the races expected to be competitive in November are in states where Republicans now serve as governor. Trump's relative unpopularity presents another challenge for Republicans trying to defend those seats.

In Michigan, Trump has supported Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette in his run for governor against the Democrat, former legislative leader Gretchen Whitmer.

That may have helped Schuette in a competitive GOP primary, but it could cost him some support in the general election.

A similar theme is playing out in other states.

NATURAL GAS EXPLOSIONS-TEXAS

Report finds dozens of Texas gas leak explosions since 2006

(Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com)

DALLAS (AP) — A newspaper investigation has found that more than two dozen homes in north and central Texas have blown up since 2006 because of leaking natural gas. Nine people died and at least 22 others were badly injured.

The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday the explosions all happened along a network of pipelines operated by Atmos Energy Corp, one of the largest natural gas companies in the U.S.

The company says it was not at fault and told the newspaper its employees wake up each day "dedicated to our mission to keep people safe."

Records show that one division of the company, Atmos Mid-Tex, has received more than 2,000 citations alleging violations of pipeline safety rules over the past decade. That's more than other large operators in Texas.

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AUSTRALIA-PLANE CRASH

Pilot blamed for Australian plane crash that killed Texans

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Investigators say the pilot was at fault in the crash of a light plane into an Australian shopping mall last year that killed him and his four American passengers.

Pilot Max Quartermain radioed "Mayday" seven times in 10 seconds before the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air B200 plunged into the Direct Factory Outlet mall in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon on Feb. 21, 2017.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in a report on Monday that the pilot did not detect that the plane's rudder trim was in the full nose-left position before takeoff instead of a neutral position.

Quartermain was taking passengers Greg Reynolds De Haven, Russell Munsch, Glenn Garland and John Howard Washburn — who all lived in the Austin, Texas, area — on a golfing trip.

DONATED BANANAS-COCAINE

$18M worth of cocaine found in bananas given to Texas prison

HOUSTON (AP) — Authorities say bananas donated to a Texas prison turned out to have nearly $18 million worth of cocaine hidden inside the boxes.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says in a Facebook post that the drugs were found in two pallets of bananas that were donated because they were already ripe. The donation arrived Friday.

The department says sergeants who picked up the boxes found a bundle of a white powdery substance under the bananas. U.S. customs officials were called to the scene, and authorities say 540 packages of cocaine were found in 45 boxes of bananas.

The department says federal officials and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are investigating.

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