HOUSTON (AP) – A government attorney in South Texas says that during the ongoing partial government shutdown, he only has been allowed to work on cases related to a proposed border wall. The Texas Civil Rights Project released a transcript Thursday of a hearing in a case where the U.S. government has sued a local landowner for her property. President Donald Trump triggered a shutdown by demanding for $5.7 billion to build a wall, and immigration authorities have said they want to start building in February. According to the transcript, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez noted government attorneys working on border wall cases haven’t been furloughed despite the shutdown. Attorney Eric Paxton Warner, responded, “This is all I’m allowed to work on, Your Honor.” Warner and spokesmen for prosecutors didn’t immediately return messages.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – A military personnel insurer and financial services company has donated $15 million for interest-free loans to Coast Guard members during the partial U.S. government shutdown. San Antonio-based USAA on Wednesday announced the funds will be disbursed by Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. The American Red Cross Hero Care Center will assist. Coast Guard personnel with dependents are eligible for interest-free loans up to $1,000. Service members without dependents are eligible for up to $750. Officials say the loans are meant to cover an estimated two weeks of shortfalls due to Coast Guard personnel not being paid during the government shutdown, which began Dec. 22. USAA, according to its website, offers insurance and other financial products to more than 12.8 million current and ex-members of the U.S. military and their families.
DALLAS (AP) – Police in Texas have arrested a group of people suspected in a series of bank robberies after the hood on the car they were using to flee authorities popped up and covered the windshield, obscuring the road. Authorities say the suspects were under surveillance by law enforcement officials Thursday when they attempted to rob a bank northeast of Fort Worth. One woman was arrested at the bank, but three other suspects fled. The car was speeding from police on Interstate 30 when the hood snapped back. The car exited and continued for several more miles before the three people inside ran into a field and were apprehended. Their names were not immediately released.
OKEMAH, Okla. (AP) – Authorities say two bodies found this week in shallow graves in rural Oklahoma have been positively identified as a missing woman and man from central Texas. Police in Temple, Texas, said Thursday that Oklahoma’s medical examiner has positively identified the bodies as 28-year-old Jenna Scott and 32-year-old Michael Swearingin, confirming a preliminary police investigation. No arrest has been made. The friends had been missing since Jan. 4. Their bodies were recovered Tuesday in Okfuskee County, about 75 miles east of Oklahoma City. Their families had been searching for them in Bell County, Texas, before investigators were led to the remote area where the bodies were discovered. The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office didn’t immediately respond to an email request for additional details about its investigation, including how the pair died.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A nonprofit group denied a state license to open a South Bend, Indiana, abortion clinic has reapplied for one instead of challenging the decision in court. The South Bend Tribune reports Texas-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance reapplied for the license Thursday, avoiding what it feared would be a lengthy legal battle. An Indiana State Department of Health administrative panel voted 2-1 in November to reject the nonprofit’s request to open an abortion clinic, saying necessary information wasn’t disclosed on its initial application in October 2017. Whole Woman’s Health Alliance CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said it considered the pros and cons of a court battle but decided to follow the health department’s recommendation of a license reapplication. The clinic would offer medication-induced abortions to women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Incoming Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has looked to Texas to find his state education commissioner. The Republican governor-elect’s transition team announced Thursday that Texas Education Agency chief deputy commissioner of academics Penny Schwinn will lead the Tennessee Department of Education. Lee has advocated for school choice, but hasn’t released detailed policy priorities yet. Lee’s team touted Schwinn’s role in transforming the assessment program in Texas, expanding externships and focusing on career readiness. Lee’s inauguration is Saturday.