DISABLED CRUISE SHIP
Suit: Fire risk known before Carnival ship sailed
McALLEN, Texas (AP) - Documents filed in the past few days in federal court in Miami indicate Carnival Cruise Lines knew about a risk of leaks from engine fuel hoses and recommended precautions before the ill-fated voyage of the Carnival Triumph.
A lawsuit filed in February on behalf of dozens of passengers argues the cruise line and its parent Carnival Corporation were negligent in maintenance, allowing Triumph to sail from Galveston on Feb. 7.
A Feb. 10 fire disabled the ship. Passengers endured a nightmarish tow to Mobile, Ala.
CNN first reported on the newly filed documents.
Carnival said in a response filed Tuesday that the ship's engines passed inspection before departing for the four-day cruise and its own recommendation to install spray shields on flexible fuel lines was beyond any required safety measures.
Warhol portrait jury wraps 1st day of deliberation
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A jury deciding the ownership of an Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett has concluded its first full day of deliberations.
The panel of six men and six women is considering whether to allow Ryan O'Neal to keep the portrait or if it belongs to the University of Texas at Austin.
Jurors received the case on Monday afternoon and have completed nearly five-and-a-half hours of deliberations.
The university is suing O'Neal to gain possession of the portrait, which it says should have been included in Fawcett's gift of all her artwork to the school. Another nearly identical portrait was given to the university and hangs in its art museum.
O'Neal, however, says the artwork was a gift from Warhol and he should be allowed to keep it.
Houston hotel displays half-ton chocolate Santa
HOUSTON (AP) - Santa Claus has come to town in Houston and he's sweeter than your average holiday fellow.
A Houston hotel has created a half-ton dark chocolate sculpture of Santa Claus in a chair, complete with elves.
Pastry experts at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston used dark chocolate and a special chocolate dough to fashion the exhibit, which is on display until Dec. 30.
Hotel spokeswoman Tere Perry says the project cost about $5,000 worth of chocolate and 400 hours in work.
Officials estimate the chocolate adds up to more than 2.4 million calories. But it's not edible. Perry told the Houston Chronicle the sculpture has been sealed with lacquer.
Hearings over embattled UT regent resume
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Lawmakers won't hear from an embattled University of Texas regent as they resume mulling whether to recommend impeachment.
A House committee reconvenes Wednesday in the investigation of Regent Wallace Hall. He's accused of misusing his office in an attempt to force out Austin campus president Bill Powers.
Powers' job is safe for now after receiving a cautious endorsement last week from UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa. Both men have clashed over the direction of UT's flagship campus and are expected to testify in the Hall investigation.
But Hall won't be speaking to lawmakers. He wasn't subpoenaed, and his attorney this week signaled concerns over lawmakers' intentions.
The threat of impeachment is seldom seen in Texas politics.
Charges dropped against federal agent in S Texas
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) - Charges have been dropped against a federal agent who worked at the McAllen office of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General.
Prosecutors had alleged that Marco Rodriguez falsified records at his supervisor's request. The Brownsville Herald reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1enpTne ) that U.S. Attorney's office filed the motion asking that the charges against Rodriguez be dropped. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville granted the motion with prejudice earlier this month.
Rodriguez's superior, Special Agent-in-Charge Eugenio Pedraza, is scheduled to go to trial in March. He has pleaded not guilty to 13 counts.
Federal prosecutors say that in advance of an internal audit of the office's operations, Pedraza launched his staff on a mission to prepare documents that falsely indicated investigative activity had taken place.
Man who killed 2 fleeing, sentenced to 20 years
DEL RIO, Texas (AP) - An Alabama man who killed two people while fleeing Border Patrol near the Texas-Mexico border has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Alia Moses sentenced 39-year-old David Steiner on Tuesday for felony assault of a Border Patrol agent.
The U.S. Attorney's office said Steiner was driving a stolen vehicle in May 2012, when he drove at agents trying to avoid a traffic stop near Comstock. Agents later came upon an accident where Steiner had hit an oncoming vehicle killing two passengers and seriously injuring the driver.
The judge also ordered Steiner to pay $4,390 in restitution for the vehicle he stole and wrecked.
County GOP sues Houston over same-sex benefits
HOUSTON (AP) - Harris County Republicans have sued the city of Houston over its extension of health and life insurance benefits last month to legally married same-sex spouses of city employees.
Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County Republican party, told the Houston Chronicle Tuesday (http://bit.ly/18xwcCl ) the city acted unilaterally.
The lawsuit filed in state District court alleges the mechanism used by Mayor Annise Parker, who is openly gay, violated the city charter, the state Defense of Marriage Act and Texas Constitution.
City Attorney David Feldman said he expected the lawsuit would be thrown out because the filers did not appear to have legal standing.
An opinion issued in April by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said local governments offering such benefits are violating the state constitution.
Man who burned girlfriend sentenced to life
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A 23-year-old Arlington man has been sentenced to life in prison for lighting his longtime girlfriend on fire.
A Tarrant County jury sentenced Antonio Hales Jr. Tuesday after convicting him last week of attempted capital murder.
Prosecutors said Hales was on probation for drug convictions when he got into a fight with his girlfriend outside his drug supplier's apartment. He doused her with gasoline, choked her and tossed a match. She suffered burns on 40 percent of her body.
The Tarrant County District Attorney's office said that at trial, jurors heard of a long history of domestic abuse prior to the final confrontation.