Students in Libya say slain teacher inspired them
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) - An American chemistry teacher killed while jogging in Benghazi looked forward to his first Christmas in the United States with his wife and toddler son.
Ronald Thomas Smith II shared his excitement with his students, and sent his wife and child home while he stayed in Libya a few more weeks to finish end-of-semester exams.
The 33-year-old's shooting Thursday shattered those dreams. It also highlighted the tenuous security in a city where a U.S. ambassador was killed last year.
Students at Benghazi's International School say Smith pushed them to work hard and succeed, and he loved Libya.
Sixteen-year-old Abdulrahman Bader says Smith wasn't just a teacher, but "a brother" and "the heart of the school."
Smith was from Warren, Mich., and also lived in Austin, Texas, where he attended college.
Cornyn, Cruz hail Mandela as freedom fighter
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are hailing former South African President Nelson Mandela as a tireless fighter for freedom and justice.
The anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa's first black president died Thursday at age 95.
In a statement, Conryn said Mandela "united both his country and the world around the basic dignity owed to every human being." He added that Mandela's "unwavering commitment to justice and equality remains a model to each of us."
Cruz's statement said Mandela "will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe." He said Mandela's "epic fight for injustice" meant "an entire nation is now free."
Both said they will mourn the loss of Mandela, while Corny promised to work to carry on his legacy.
MANDELA-GEORGE W. BUSH
George W. Bush pays tribute to Nelson Mandela
DALLAS (AP) - Former President George W. Bush is paying tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela.
The anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa's first black president died Thursday at the age of 95.
In a statement issued by his Dallas office, Bush said:
"Laura and I join the people of South Africa and the world in celebrating the life of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time. He bore his burdens with dignity and grace, and our world is better off because of his example.
"This good man will be missed, but his contributions will live on forever. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathy to President Mandela's family and to the citizens of the nation he loved."
'Ice Friday' bears down on Texas, much of Midwest
DALLAS (AP) - As a wintry blast makes its way across the nation, Texas prepared for what one hardware store manager called "Ice Friday."
Schools canceled Friday classes and airlines canceled hundreds of Friday flights one day after shoppers by the thousands jammed store aisles for supplies.
Forecasters issued winter storm and ice warnings for much of Friday for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Areas of the Midwest could see several inches of snow.
The system has already dumped 1 to 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
North Texans, who saw temperatures in the 80s earlier this week, are still haunted by the fiasco of a frozen Super Bowl week two years ago. The inadequate response to a winter storm then crippled the region.
TEXAS WINTER STORM-PERRY
Perry issues emergency proclamation ahead of storm
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Gov. Rick Perry has issued an emergency proclamation, mobilizing state resources as many parts of the state brace for a severe winter storm.
In a statement Thursday, Perry urged affected communities to "prepare for dangerous weather conditions."
His order activates a statewide emergency operations center. It also means 54 Texas Military Forces personnel and 20 supporting vehicles were standing by in Wichita Falls and Sherman to help rescue any stranded motorists.
Department of Transportation officials were treating roadways in areas expected to be especially hard-hit, and the Public Utility Commission was monitoring for power outages due to ice.
The governor said the National Weather Service is forecasting freezing rain and ice across much of the state "with significant impacts around north and central Texas."
2nd person dies after Texas hospital stabbing
LONGVIEW, Texas (AP) - A second person has died of injuries from a stabbing attack last month at a Texas hospital.
Harris Teel died early Thursday at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, where the Nov. 26 attack occurred. The 82-year-old Teel was at the hospital waiting to take his son home following a medical procedure when he was stabbed along with four other people.
Also killed was Gail Sandidge, a nurse who worked at the hospital for 35 years.
A hospital spokeswoman says the three others who were stabbed have been released.
Twenty-two-year-old Kyron Rayshawn Templeton is jailed on murder and aggravated assault charges. Longview police spokeswoman Kristie Brian says investigators will confer with Gregg County prosecutors on additional charges.
Brian says a motive remains unclear. Templeton has refused to speak with investigators.
GULF OIL SPILL-RESTORATION
US interior secretary about oil spill restoration
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is in the New Orleans area to talk about the third and largest group of early restoration proposals for recovery from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Money for the work is coming from $1 billion provided by BP PLC in 2011 as a down payment on coastal restoration.
Jewell will be among federal, local and state officials at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve's Barataria Unit in Marrero.
A news release says Jewell also will talk about continuing interagency work to restore natural resources along the Gulf and about the region's importance to President Barack Obama's climate plan. The plan includes measures to restore shoreline features that help protect communities from storms.
Education advocacy groups give Fs to Cruz, Cornyn
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas affiliate of the National Education Association and other advocacy groups are staging a rally and march to issue failing grades to U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz on key social and educational issues.
Also receiving 'Fs' are fellow Republicans and U.S. Reps. John Carter and Roger Williams.
They are being chided for failing to do more on issues "critical to Texas families, including labor, public education, health care, immigration reform and voting rights."
Friday's rally at the state Capitol and subsequent march through nearby streets features the Texas State Teachers Association and the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Representatives from many other organizations, including the Sierra Club and Workers Defense Project, also plan to attend - despite frigid Austin temperatures.
Lawyers: Charges against ex-governor baseless
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Lawyers for a former Mexican governor charged in the United States with money laundering and drug trafficking say the charges are based on false accusations by people trying to bargain with U.S. prosecutors.
Attorney Joel Androphy says witnesses against former Tamaulipas Gov. Tomas Yarrington gave false information to get leniency from the U.S. government.
Androphy spoke Thursday in Mexico City along with three Mexican lawyers for Yarrington.
U.S. prosecutors allege Yarrington received millions of dollars in bribes from the Gulf Cartel and in return allowed traffickers to smuggle large amounts of cocaine into the U.S.
According to the indictment unsealed this week, Yarrington first received payments when he was a candidate for governor of Tamaulipas and the payoffs continued after the end of his tenure in 2004.
Republican Tom Pauken drops out of governor's race
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Republican Tom Pauken is ending his longshot bid for Texas governor after seeing "no realistic path to victory."
Pauken said Thursday his campaign was too short on financial and organizational support with the GOP primary just three months away. The filing deadline for 2014 statewide candidates is Monday.
Pauken is the former head of the Texas Workforce Commission and once served as the party chairman of Texas Republicans. He staked his six-month campaign on being the alternative to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and argued he would fare better against Democrat Wendy Davis in the general election.
Pauken had said from the start that he needed to raise at least $2 million to make a competitive run.
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