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June 15, 2018 - 12:00 am

SCHOOL SHOOTING-TEXAS

Texas governor's plan after Santa Fe shooting meets pushback

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says gun rights are safe on his watch amid pushback to some of his safety proposals after a high school shooting that left 10 people dead.

Abbott headlined the Texas GOP Convention in San Antonio on Friday. It comes at the end of the week in which Texas lawmakers began weighing the governor's calls to arm more teachers, prioritize mental health and "harden" campuses with extra police and metal detectors.

Also mentioned are potential "red flag" laws that keep guns away from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. That's a non-starter for some gun-rights groups and firebrand conservatives in the Texas Legislature.

Abbott didn't touch on his proposals during his convention speech but reiterated his defense of gun rights.

HEART TRANSPLANT PROGRAM SUSPENDED

Texas heart transplant program resumed after suspension

HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston hospital has resumed its renowned heart transplant program two weeks after suspending all medical procedures following the deaths of several patients this year.

Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center said Friday that a review of two recent patient deaths didn't identify systemic problems with the program.

The hospital says it has made several changes, including reorganizing the transplant surgery team and refining how patients are selected for the program.

The hospital says it is notifying the more than 60 patients who are on a donor waiting list that the heart transplant program has resumed.

The two-week suspension came after a series of joint reports by the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica revealing the departure of several top physicians and an unusually high number of patient deaths in recent years.

POLICE SHOOTING-TEEN KILLED

Jury selection process begins for ex-cop charged with murder

DALLAS (AP) — The jury selection process has begun in the trial of a white former suburban Dallas police officer charged with murder after fatally shooting a black teenager.

Prosecutors say Roy Oliver fired into a moving car occupied by five black teenagers in April 2017, striking 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Oliver opened fire as the vehicle was driving away. The first phase of jury selection started Friday.

Oliver was fired for violating department policies and a grand jury last year indicted him on a murder charge, along with four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant.

In court filings, Oliver has said he and his partner were in fear for their lives when the vehicle occupied by the teens sped past them.

NURSE-FRAUD-PATIENT DEATHS

Ex-Hospice supervisor pleads guilty in $60M fraud scheme

DALLAS (AP) — A former hospice nursing supervisor in North Texas has pleaded guilty to her role in a $60 million health care fraud scheme that prosecutors allege involved overdosing patients for profit.

Jessica Love pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud as part of a plea agreement filed Monday. Love worked as a registered nurse case manager and regional director for Frisco-based Novus Health Services, which shut down several years ago amid the federal investigation.

Court documents show Love participated in the over-medication of two patients, who died from the high dosages. She's facing up to ten years in prison.

Love is expected to testify against other defendants charged in the FBI investigation. Court documents outline a scheme to bill Medicare more for "continuous care" and overmedicate patients to "hasten their deaths."

The federal trial is scheduled for January.

PERMIAN BASIN PRODUCTION

Permian Basin in Texas to double crude oil volumes by 2023

(Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Permian Basin in West Texas is expected to become the third-largest oil producing region in the world.

The Houston Chronicle reports that research shows the Permian is on track to produce more oil within five years than any OPEC nation except Saudi Arabia. Crude volumes from the region are projected to more than double by 2023.

Most of the oil is headed to refineries and ports near Houston and Corpus Christi. U.S. crude exports are expected to spike to nearly 5 million barrels a day by 2023.

IHS Markit Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin says the Permian's production in the past two years has grown far more than any country in the world. The consulting firm estimates that $308 billion in new spending is needed to drill more than 40,000 new wells to meet projections.

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SHERIFF'S CAPTAIN-MOWING

Officials: Texas sheriff's captain mowing instead of working

(Information from: The Brownsville Herald, http://www.brownsvilleherald.com)

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A South Texas sheriff's captain has lost his job after authorities found he falsified his time sheet by indicating he was working when he was actually mowing the fields at a county airport and then selling the bales of hay.

Cameron County sheriff's Capt. Jose Carlos Garza must surrender his peace officer's license as part of a pre-trial diversion program he entered after being charged with tampering with a governmental record.

The 49-year-old Garza held the contract to mow at the airport. District Attorney Luis Saenz tells The Brownsville Herald that selling the bales could net up to $200,000 a year.

Authorities say Garza falsified time sheets in 2016. He had been with the department for more than 20 years.

He faces up to two years in prison should he violate terms of the diversion program.

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TEXAS UNEMPLOYMENT

Texas unemployment for May holds steady at 4.1 percent

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas unemployment rate for May held steady at 4.1 percent.

The Texas Workforce Commission on Friday reported the latest statewide jobless figure was the same as April. Nationwide unemployment for May hit an 18-year low at 3.8 percent.

TWC officials say Midland had the lowest statewide unemployment during May at 2.1 percent. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission area had the highest jobless rate in Texas last month at 6.2 percent.

Commission authorities say the Texas economy added 34,700 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in May, which marked 23 consecutive months of employment growth. Over the year, Texas added 352,100 jobs.

Texas unemployment figures for June are scheduled to be released on July 20.

CHILD-HOT CAR-SHOPLIFTING

Mom allegedly left son in hot car, shoplifted at Texas store

HOUSTON (AP) — Authorities have arrested a woman accused of leaving her 7-year-old son in a hot car while she allegedly shoplifted some makeup from a Houston-area Walmart.

Records show Dimitric Knight remained jailed Friday on a charge of endangering a child, with bond at $15,000.

Harris County Constable Mark Herman says authorities detained Knight on Wednesday for allegedly hiding $70 worth of makeup inside her purse. After Knight was arrested, authorities discovered she had left her son in the backseat of her vehicle for more than 40 minutes.

Herman says temperatures were above 90 degrees and only one window was down about 4 inches.

The boy was treated at the scene and later released to a family member.

Court records didn't list an attorney for Knight.

PRISONER PAYMENTS-FRAUD

Prison worker in Texas guilty of scamming inmate relatives

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — A federal prison worker in Texas has pleaded guilty to scamming relatives of some inmates by soliciting cash and saying the funds would help get their loved ones released early.

Tanya L. Richard of Beaumont pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The 41-year-old administrative employee of the Federal Correction Complex in Beaumont faces up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Richard, who's been on administrative leave since her April indictment, used her job to obtain confidential information on inmates and draft bogus government cooperation agreements. Relatives were falsely told they could get sentences reduced by paying cash, with the money going to drug-case informants helping the government.

She and other scammers spent the money on themselves.

Six co-defendants earlier pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison.

RIG COUNT

National rig count falls by 3 to 1,059; Texas loses 4

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. decreased by three this week to 1,059.

At this time a year ago there were 933 active rigs.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday that 863 rigs drilled for oil this week and 194 for gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, New Mexico and North Dakota each added three rigs and Louisiana gained one.

Texas lost four rigs, Alaska declined by two and Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each lost one.

Arkansas, California, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May of 2016 at 404.

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