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    The efforts to clean up a Texas industrial plant that burned for several days this week were hamstrung Friday by a briefly reignited fire and a breach that led to chemicals spilling into the nearby Houston Ship Channel. The Texas attorney general also filed a lawsuit against Intercontinental Terminals Company, which operates the petrochemical tank farm east of Houston. Attorney General Ken Paxton said Texas had to hold the company 'accountable for the damage it has done to our environment.' 'ITC has a history of environmental violations, and this latest incident is especially disturbing and frightening,' Paxton said in a statement. 'No company can be allowed to disrupt lives and put public health and safety at risk.' An ITC spokeswoman said the company would not comment on pending litigation. While the new fire was extinguished about an hour after it began Friday afternoon, the spillage of chemicals led the U.S. Coast Guard to close part of the ship channel, a critical commercial waterway that connects oil refineries between the Port of Houston and the Gulf of Mexico. Among the chemicals released into the air this week were benzene, which evaporates quickly and can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and headaches, with worse symptoms at higher levels of exposure. Crews on Friday continued to drain an estimated 20,000 barrels of chemicals from a tank damaged in the fire that began Sunday and was initially put out on Wednesday . A foam layer was reapplied to keep the chemicals contained. But a dike wall partially breached shortly before 12:30 p.m., company spokesman Dale Samuelsen said, leading to the spill of possibly hazardous chemicals. The Coast Guard eventually closed the ship channel in the nearby area to prevent the spread of what a spokesman said was a mix of chemicals, foam, and soot from the fire. Just before 4 p.m., another fire broke out, emitting more large plumes of black smoke. Samuelsen said the fire was extinguished by 5 p.m., though some smoke was still visible shortly afterward. After the dike breach, the company asked neighboring industrial sites and the nearby San Jacinto Texas State Historic Site to shelter in place. Authorities did not extend that order to residents. People living near the plant in Deer Park were told Thursday to remain indoors after air monitors detected elevated levels of benzene. That order was lifted later Thursday. Adam Adams of the Environmental Protection Agency said air tests by the EPA and the company had not shown any positive results for high levels of benzene. One positive test after 4 a.m. from a sensor operated by Harris County was verified to be a false alarm, a county spokeswoman said. The Harris County fire marshal's office said it continued to investigate the origin and cause of the fire with the help of federal authorities. 'This incident has captured the attention of the nation and beyond, with many questions being asked why and how this incident occurred,' Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen said in a statement.
  • The Ohio Department of Health is ending grants and contracts that send money to Planned Parenthood after a divided federal appeals court upheld a state anti-abortion law that blocks public money for the group. The department notified recipients and contractors Thursday that it will end that funding within a month to comply with the law, unless the court delays the effect of its ruling as Planned Parenthood has requested. The health department said the law requires it to ensure state and certain federal funds aren't 'used to perform or promote nontherapeutic abortions.' The law targeted funding that Planned Parenthood receives through the department. That money is mostly from the federal government and supports education and prevention programs. Planned Parenthood said the funding provides 'essential services' to tens of thousands of Ohioans that other health centers can't replace. Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio President Iris Harvey called the decision 'heartless' and said it puts 'politics over people.' 'This cruel ruling blocks funding that allowed Planned Parenthood to provide essential services that reduce black infant mortality, prevent violence against women, and provide cancer screenings, HIV tests and sex education,' she said in an emailed statement. On March 12, the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower federal court ruling when it voted 11-6 to uphold the state law. The majority opinion said that while Planned Parenthood contends the Ohio law will unconstitutionally deprive women of the right to access abortion services without undue burden, that conclusion is premature and speculative because the organization has said it will continue to provide abortion services.
  • An unvaccinated student in Kentucky will get his day in court after suing because he can't participate in extracurricular activities during a chickenpox outbreak. The Courier Journal reports 18-year-old Jerome Kunkel's case will be heard in court April 1. Unvaccinated students have ordered by the state health department to stay away from the Our Lady of the Assumption Church school and its activities during the outbreak. Kunkel's family founded the school and church, which opposes anything to do with abortion. He says the vaccine violates his beliefs because it's produced using cell lines derived from aborted fetuses generations ago. The National Catholic Bioethics Center says the vaccine is OK because it doesn't actually contain aborted cells. Health department lawyer Jeffrey C. Mando says the state properly used its authority. ___ Information from: Courier Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com
  • Arkansas-based Tyson Foods is recalling more than 69,000 pounds (31,297 kilograms) of frozen, ready-to-eat chicken strips because they may be contaminated with pieces of metal. The U.S. Agriculture Department said Thursday the products were produced on Nov. 30, 2018, and have a best if used by date of Nov. 30, 2019. The products have the establishment number 'P-7221' on the back of the packages. The USDA says it received two complaints about the metal, but there are no confirmed reports of anyone being injured. The USDA is concerned the products could still be in freezers. Consumers should throw out the packages or return them to the place of purchase. The recall comes after Tyson in January recalled some chicken nuggets because customers said they found pieces of 'soft, blue rubber' inside.
  • The World Health Organization says Ebola has spiked in Congo in recent days because of 'increased security challenges,' a week after its director-general predicted the outbreak might be contained within six months. The U.N. health agency said in an update late Thursday the recent attacks on Ebola clinics slowed response efforts for days. Congolese officials reported dozens of new suspected and confirmed cases recently. Last week, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the outbreak was 'contracting' and praised the efforts to avert a larger crisis. Tariq Riebl of the International Rescue Committee, who is currently working in Congo, had a starkly different perspective. 'I think all of us in the field are aware that we're very far from being near the end of this outbreak,' he said. Riebl said the recent jump in cases also points to ongoing surveillance failures. 'The increase in cases also shows we are catching up with all the transmission that we haven't previously been aware of,' he said. In recent weeks, more than 40 percent of new cases in the hotspot towns of Katwa and Butembo had no known links to other cases, meaning doctors have lost track of where the virus is spreading. WHO reported this week that many people with Ebola are refusing to seek care in health clinics and are dying at home, further increasing the chances of transmission, since the bodies of victims are highly contagious. Outbreak responders have also been targeted by rebel attacks; Doctors Without Borders was forced to shut down two of its Ebola clinics in Eastern Congo after repeated attacks and has called conditions at the epicenter 'toxic.' Eastern Congo is home to numerous armed groups and the Ebola epidemic has deepened the political and economic grievances of many in the area. WHO teams often visit communities with a police escort for security reasons, a move that some think could undermine community trust. 'We understand why some people might be scared of this and we believe that the use of force should be a last resort,' Riebl said, adding that IRC doesn't use armed escorts. He noted that the outbreak would soon hit 1,000 cases; it is already the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. To date, there have been 915 confirmed cases, including 610 deaths. 'It's a sad threshold to reach, but it should also be a time of reflection,' Riebl said. 'We will not be able to stop this outbreak without local support.
  • About 4 percent of women incarcerated in state prisons across the U.S. were pregnant when they were jailed, according to a new study released Thursday that researchers hope will help lawmakers and prisons better consider the health of women behind bars. The number of imprisoned women has risen dramatically over the past decades, growing even as the overall prison rates decline. But there had been a lack of data on women's health and no system for tracking how frequently incarcerated women were pregnant, or what happened to the pregnancies. The Bureau of Justice Statistics, for example, collects data on deaths in custody but not on births. Dr. Carolyn Sufrin of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine attempted to fill the void by collecting data from 22 state prison systems and 26 federal prisons during a yearlong period in 2016 and 2017. She released her results in the American Journal of Public Health . 'The fact that nobody had collected this data before signals just how much this population is neglected,' Sufrin said. There were 753 live births among the 56,262 women included in the study, with about 10,000 in federal prisons but the majority in state prison systems. There were 46 miscarriages, 11 abortions, four stillbirths and three newborn deaths, according to the study. No women died during childbirth. Among women who were already in state prisons, five new pregnancies were diagnosed during a six-month period — three women became pregnant during work release and the other two were not reported. Researchers found there were 1,396 women who reported being pregnant while incarcerated — 1,224 from state prisons and 172 in federal prisons. The researchers found differences by state. Texas and Ohio, large states with large prison populations, had some months when there were more than 50 pregnant women jailed. Other states had months with no pregnant women. Overall, about 6 percent of pregnancies resulted in miscarriage, but in some states that was as high as 20 percent, according to the study. March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies nationwide, estimates that between 15 and 25 percent of recognized pregnancies overall end in miscarriage. Brenda Baker, a professor and researcher at Emory University School of Nursing who teaches prenatal care to pregnant women who are incarcerated in Georgia, said the research was much needed. 'We are so starved for data. The fact that someone can get something like this and share it excites us,' she said. 'Those of us who do research in this area will use it far and wide.' She said pregnant women have been a virtually unknown population in the criminal justice system. 'But women are the fastest growing sector of the prison population — women of childbearing age. If you can't measure it, you can't fix it,' Baker said. Most incarcerated women have to give up their babies within days of having them, especially if they are serving long sentences. In rare cases, like at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York, some women are allowed to keep their newborns in a separate nursery inside the prison run by a nonprofit. The study included about 57 percent of all women in prison — 53 percent from state prisons and 86 percent in federal prisons. There are about 112,000 women behind bars nationwide. The data was collected in states with large female prison populations, such as Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Arizona and Georgia, and in states with smaller populations like Vermont and Wisconsin. But some large states declined to participate, including California, Florida and New York. Designated reporters, which included prison employees as well as health care personnel, reported monthly. They did not collect data on the women's health, socio-economic status or prior pregnancy history — factors that could influence a pregnancy outcome.
  • Scientists are closing in on a way to help young boys undergoing cancer treatment preserve their future fertility — and the proof is the first monkey born from the experimental technology. More and more people are surviving childhood cancer, but nearly 1 in 3 will be left infertile from the chemotherapy or radiation that helped save their life. When young adults are diagnosed with cancer, they can freeze sperm, eggs or embryos ahead of treatment. But children diagnosed before puberty can't do that because they're not yet producing mature eggs or sperm. 'Fertility issues for kids with cancer were ignored' for years, said University of Pittsburgh reproductive scientist Kyle Orwig. 'Many of us dream of growing up and having our own families. We hope our research will help these young patients to do that.' Orwig's team reported a key advance Thursday: First, they froze a bit of testicular tissue from a monkey that hadn't yet reached puberty. Later, they used it to produce sperm that, through a monkey version of IVF, led to the birth of a healthy female monkey named Grady. The technique worked well enough that human testing should begin in the next few years, Orwig said. 'It's a huge step forward' that should give hope to families, said Susan Taymans of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which helped fund the research published in the journal Science. 'It's not like science fiction. It's something that seems pretty attainable.' University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a handful of other hospitals already freeze immature testicular tissue from young cancer patients, in hopes of knowing how to use it once they're grown and ready to have their own children. Boys are born with stem cells inside little tubes in the testes, cells that start producing sperm after puberty's testosterone jolt. Orwig's goal: Keep sperm-producing stem cells safe from cancer treatment by freezing small pieces of testicular tissue, and using them to restore fertility later in life. How? Enter the monkey research. Orwig's team froze tissue from young male monkeys, and then sterilized them. Once the monkeys approached puberty, the researchers thawed those tissue samples and gave them back to the original animal — implanting them just under the skin. 'We're not hooking it up to the normal plumbing,' Orwig cautioned. Boosted by hormones, the little pieces of tissue grew. Months later, the researchers removed them. Sure enough, inside was sperm they could collect and freeze. Colleagues at the Oregon National Primate Research Center injected some of that sperm into eggs from female monkeys and implanted the resulting embryos. Last April, Grady was born, and 'she plays and behaves just like every other monkey that was grown the normal way,' Orwig said. If the technique sounds a little bizarre, it's similar to a female option. Girls' eggs are in an immature state before puberty. Researchers have removed and frozen strips of ovarian tissue harboring egg follicles from young women before cancer treatment, in hopes that when transplanted back later the immature eggs would resume development. It's considered experimental even for young adults but some births have been reported. Now some hospitals bank ovarian tissue from girls, too. Surgery involving the boys' testicular tissue is less invasive, noted Orwig, who also is researching ways to reinsert sperm-producing stem cells where they belong rather than the more roundabout technique. The new research shows 'immature testicular tissue may become an option' to preserve boys' fertility, Nina Neuhaus and Stefan Schlatt of the Center of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology in Muenster, Germany, wrote in an accompanying editorial. Meanwhile, 'it's important for parents to know about this,' said Christine Hanlon of Holiday, Florida, who took her son Dylan to Pittsburgh to have his tissue stored when he was newly diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma at age 9. Today Dylan is a healthy teen, and no one knows if he'll ever need the stored tissue, one of more than 200 samples Orwig's study has preserved. But Hanlon was thrilled to learn the research is moving along, just in case. 'You lose part of your childhood in cancer treatment,' Hanlon said. 'If there was a chance I could help him have normalcy in his future, with the potential of having a family if that's what he decided to do, I wanted to be able to.' ___ Online: University of Pittsburgh fertility preservation program: www.fertilitypreservationpittsburgh.org ___ The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • A growing majority of Americans want greater government spending on health care, and the increase is being driven by both Democrats and Republicans. That's according to new data from the General Social Survey, a widely respected trend survey that has been measuring views of government spending since the 1970s. An analysis by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and General Social Survey staff reveals that Americans want to spend more money on a wide range of government functions. About three-quarters of Americans say the government is spending too little on education, and roughly 7 in 10 say the government is spending too little on assistance to the poor and dealing with drug addiction. By comparison, nearly half of Americans say the government is spending too much on foreign aid. The findings come as President Donald Trump's latest budget plan proposes to cut many programs that are popular with the public, including alternative energy, the safety net for the poor, and health care. Support for more government spending on health care has been on the rise since 2014. Seven in 10 consider the government's spending on improving national health to be too low, up from 62 percent in 2016 and 56 percent in 2014. While Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say spending on health is too little, there has been a sharp increase across party lines. The poll finds 80 percent of Democrats say there is too little spending, up from 66 percent in 2014, and 59 percent of Republicans say the same, up from 42 percent four years ago. The government is on track this year to borrow more than 20 cents for every dollar it spends, running a deficit in the $1 trillion range. Few lawmakers have displayed much real appetite for cutting spending and the survey data seems to help explain why. There's only one policy area — foreign aid — for which more Americans say the government is spending too much than say it's spending too little or the right amount. And while the public appears generally satisfied with spending on parks and recreation and space exploration, which take up a relatively small portion of the federal budget, Americans think most other policy areas are underfunded. On most issues, the partisan divide reflects broad attitudes toward government spending; Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say the government is spending too little. One area stands out: Comparable shares of Democrats and Republicans think infrastructure is underfunded. In 2018, 53 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans say the government is spending too little on highways and bridges. While infrastructure has been a stated priority for the White House, the latest budget plan disappointed some lawmakers who hoped for more. Across party lines, drug addiction also has seen increased attention as a policy priority in recent years. Nearly 7 in 10 say government is spending too little fighting drug addiction, up from 54 percent a decade ago and about as high as it was in the late 1980s. Wide shares of both Democrats (72 percent) and Republicans (67 percent) consider drug addiction a spending priority. In recent years, attitudes toward defense also have been shifting. In 2018, 40 percent of Americans think the defense budget is about right, up from 34 percent in 2016. Fewer — 29 percent — say too little is being spent on defense, down eight percentage points from two years ago. Among Republicans, 43 percent now say spending on defense is about right, up from 29 percent in 2016. The results correspond with a successful effort by Trump and his GOP allies to power through significant Pentagon increases over the past year. They are eying a record defense budget of $750 billion and Democrats may largely go along, in part to justify more spending on domestic programs. Support for more spending among Democrats stands out on several issues. For example, following steps by the Trump administration to curb environmental protections, there has been an uptick in the share saying too little is spent on the environment. About 8 in 10 Democrats say this now, up from 74 percent two years ago and 67 percent in 2014. While views of spending to improve the condition of blacks had been largely stable for decades, Americans are far more likely to say the government is spending too little in 2018 than they were just four years ago, 52 percent versus 30 percent. __ The General Social Survey has been conducted since 1972 by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing. Sample sizes for each year's survey vary from about 1,500 to about 3,000 adults, with margins of error falling between plus or minus 2.2 percentage points and plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The most recent survey was conducted April 12 through Nov. 10, 2018, and includes interviews with 2,348 American adults.
  • Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on Thursday signed one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation — a measure that bans most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy. Bryant's action came despite a federal judge's ruling last year that struck down a less-restrictive law limiting abortions in the state. The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights called the new measure 'cruel and clearly unconstitutional' and said it would sue Mississippi to try to block the law from taking effect on July 1. After a bill signing ceremony at the state Capitol, Bryant told reporters that he's not worried about lawsuits. 'They don't have to sue us. It's up to them,' Bryant said. 'If they do not believe in the sanctity of life, these that are in organizations like Planned Parenthood, we will have to fight that fight. But it is worth it.' Mississippi is one of several states that have considered bills this year to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is found. Abortion opponents are emboldened by new conservatives on the Supreme Court and are seeking cases to challenge Roe v. Wade, the court's 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. A federal judge in 2018 struck down a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, saying it is unconstitutional. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi. 'Lawmakers didn't get the message,' Hillary Schneller, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement Thursday. 'They are determined to rob Mississippians of the right to abortion, and they are doing it at the expense of women's health and taxpayer money. This ban — just like the 15-week ban the governor signed a year ago — is cruel and clearly unconstitutional.' The law that Bryant signed Thursday says a physician who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected could face revocation of his or her Mississippi medical license. It also says abortions could be allowed after a fetal heartbeat is found if a pregnancy endangers a woman's life or one of her major bodily functions. The House and Senate both rejected efforts to allow exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Georgia and Tennessee are among the states considering similar bills. Kentucky's law banning abortion after the detection of a heartbeat was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union when Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed it on March 14, and a federal judge temporarily blocked it. A federal judge on Wednesday also blocked another Kentucky law that would ban abortion for women seeking to end their pregnancies because of the gender, race or disability of the fetus. Dr. Leana Wen, a physician who is president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement Thursday that the new Mississippi law 'is a dangerous policy that criminalizes a safe, standard medical procedure and will endanger women's lives.' 'Patients must be empowered to make their own health care decisions, in consultation with their doctor and their family, and doctors must be able to provide health care to our patients without the threat of prison time,' Wen said. 'We cannot accept a world where the right to abortion care depends on where you live or how much money you make.' Jameson Taylor, vice president for policy at the conservative Mississippi Center for Public Policy, praised Bryant for signing the bill. 'The heartbeat bill is popular because everyone knows a heartbeat is a sign of life,' Taylor said in a statement. 'Intellectual and scientific honesty demands a reconsideration of Roe, a 50-year-old decision based on old science. 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds are showing women that their unborn child is alive.' ____ Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .
  • The Trump administration and coal industry allies are insisting that a federal black lung trust fund will continue to pay benefits to sick miners despite a drastic cut in funding. But the expected shortfalls will be covered by taxpayers instead of coal companies, adding more debt to the already struggling fund. And at least one Republican congressman from the coalfields has added his voice to the chorus of miners and advocates worried that the fund's promise to sick workers and their families ultimately might not be kept. Longtime U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican from Kentucky's Appalachian region, said a government report shows the trust fund 'is on an unsustainable path, potentially putting the benefits on which many families in my region rely in jeopardy.' The cut potentially means hundreds of millions in savings for coal companies, though Trump's Labor Department acknowledges that the trust fund's purpose was for the industry to pay for the health of workers who got sick mining coal. In January, the tax rate coal companies pay to support the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was cut in half, leaving sick miners and their advocates fearing future benefit cuts from a fund that is already about some $4 billion in debt. 'The trust fund is billions of dollars in debt and we just cut the revenue stream that funds it in half, in the face of the most serious outbreak of black lung disease that we've seen in the U.S.,' said Wes Addington, a Kentucky lawyer who helps coal miners seek black lung benefits. 'They're not explaining how the math works on that, and at what point it becomes a problem, and what's the solution to that problem in a year or two years?' The Department of Labor said in a statement Wednesday that it is obligated to continue paying benefits to sick miners, so a shortfall would be covered by borrowing from taxpayers. 'The U.S. Treasury is required by statute to make repayable advances to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund so that it can meet its obligations,' the statement said. With cash trickling into the fund at less than half its usual rate, federal budget officials estimate that by the middle of 2020 there won't be enough money to fully cover the fund's benefit payments. The 1977 law establishing the trust fund was designed to 'shift fiscal responsibility for black lung benefit payments from the federal government to the coal industry,' according to a congressional budget justification document created by the Department of Labor this year. Miners say coal operators want to foist their obligations back on the government. 'It only seems fair that since this is an industry-caused problem, the industry should be paying for these benefits instead of shifting the burden onto taxpayers, as they have done,' United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts said in a statement Wednesday. Roberts said miners are concerned that the mounting deficit in future years will force lawmakers to cut benefits. Lawmakers could restore the tax rate to its 2018 level, but that hasn't happened. Some Democratic senators, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, have sponsored a bill to extend the 2018 tax rate for another 10 years. The rate of $1.10 per ton of underground mined coal was cut by more than half to about 50 cents in the new year. The fund took in about $450 million in revenue in fiscal year 2017. The mining industry supported the higher tax rate's expiration. 'We must provide peace of mind to American miners and their families by restoring the excise tax on coal,' Sen. Warner said in a statement. 'Anything else is an empty promise.' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had pledged last year to not let the tax rate expire, but that didn't happen. McConnell has maintained that benefits would continue to be paid despite the cuts. In a statement, McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said Wednesday that an increase in the tax 'would require a bipartisan and bicameral effort that can pass both chambers.' Steurer noted that that effort would have to begin with a bill in the House of Representatives. Carl Shoupe, an ex-miner in Harlan County, said he believes lawmakers and the industry 'are just kicking the bucket down the road.' 'I honestly believe they'll start cutting benefits, if people don't start speaking up and standing up for them,' Shoupe said. Addington, executive director of the Appalachian Citizens Law Center in Whitesburg, Kentucky, said he has seen a spike in miners seeking black lung claims, and the CDC has reported on the proliferation of a serious strain of black lung that is sickening miners at younger ages. 'We're not only seeing more claims, most of the claims we're getting are much more severe cases of black lung than ever came into this office a decade ago,' Addington said. 'And it's not even close.

News

  • Two men are accused to stealing more than $70,000 worth of musical instruments from the University of Louisville’s School of Music, WLKY reported. >> Read more trending news  Alphonso Monrew, 22, and Anthony Abrams, 52, were arrested Thursday, according to Jefferson County Jail records. Each were charged with two counts of third degree burglary and two counts of theft by unlawful taking, the television station reported. According to police, on several occasions the two men stole instruments, including a $10,000 guitar, from the university’s music school, WLKY reported. The thefts occurred over several weeks, the television station reported. All of the instruments have been recovered and will be returned to students, police said.
  • A Texas woman got an early start to celebrating her 105th birthday, joining more than 150 family members for a party at a San Antonio church, KSAT reported. >> Read more trending news  Minnie McRae, who turns 105 on Tuesday, was the guest of honor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church on Saturday, the television station reported. McRae’s nephew, Arturo Ayala, flew from Germany to attend the party for a woman who taught him how to dance by giving him lessons in her living room, KSAT reported.  Ayala said he believes he knows the secret to his aunt’s long life 'She's never shared it, but from my relationship with her, I see her always praying and ... always reading,' Ayala told the television station.  Ayala also said McRae was very spiritual and did work with Incarnate Word. 'She's a blessing and she's a miracle,' Ayala told KSAT.
  • There will be laughing, singing, and music swinging when singer Martha Reeves receives another honor in May. >> Read more trending news  Reeves, 77, the lead vocalist of 1960s group Martha and Vandellas, will be honored by the Alabama State Council on the Arts on May 22, AL.com reported. Reeves was the singer for the group’s hits, including “Dancing in the Streets,” “Heat Wave” and “Jimmy Mack.” Reeves, a native of Eufaula, will receive Alabama’s 2019 Distinguished Artist Award. The award recognizes “a professional artist who is considered a native or adopted Alabamian and who has earned significant national acclaim for their art over an extended period,' according to the council’s website. Other recipients of the award include Jim Nabors, Fannie Flagg and George Lindsey. Vandella moved to Detroit as a child and grew up singing in church, AL.com reported. Her gospel-influenced vocals were evident in the group’s pop and rhythm and blues songs, which gave the Vandellas a string of hits on the Motown label. Reeves was inducted with the group -- Rosalind Ashford-Holmes, Annette Sterling-Helton, Lois Reeves and Betty Kelly -- into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. “Martha and the Vandellas were the Supremes’ tougher, more grounded counterpart,” the Rock Hall website says. “With her cheeky, fervent vocals, Martha Reeves led the group in a string of dance anthems that are irresistible to this day.” Reeves was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1995. 
  • A Florida deputy was arrested after an altercation at a Jacksonville nightclub, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reported. >> Read more trending news  According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Officer Rodney Bryant, a 5 1/2-year member of the department, was involved in a dispute Friday at Mascara's Gentlemen's Club with his girlfriend and her friend.  Bryant has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He has been terminated from his position in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. According to deputies, the group left the club but the dispute continued in a vehicle. This was when Bryant allegedly pulled over, opened the trunk of his vehicle and pulled out a firearm.  Bryant allegedly pointed the gun at the two women, making threats, according to the Sheriff’s Office.  They were all pulled over long enough for the girlfriend's friend to make contact with her sister, who later arrived at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The girl's sister observed Bryant with the firearm making threats and that he pointed the firearm at her, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
  • A Marine killed in action during the Vietnam War nearly 50 years ago was honored in a memorial service Saturday, and a headstone and plaque were erected at his gravesite at a South Florida cemetery, the Sun-Sentinel reported. >> Read more trending news  Private First Class Gregory Carter was killed in action Oct. 12, 1969, in the Quang Ngai province of South Vietnam, according to according to a Vietnam military casualties database on Ancestry.com. He was remembered in a service attended by nearly 200 people Saturday at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, the Sun-Sentinel reported. “It’s like he woke up to the world again,” Carter’s brother, Anthony Owens, told the newspaper. “His life is meaningful. It means something.” “No, I did not (expect this many people). It raised our spirits, big time.” Carter laid in an unmarked grave until the Vietnam Veterans of America discovered him while searching for photographs of Vietnam veterans to place on the black granite Wall of Faces in Washington, D.C., the Sun-Sentinel reported. Carter was drafted into the Marines on July 4, 1969, when he was 19, according to the Ancestry.com database. He already had a young son and a daughter was on the way, but Carter would never know either of them, the newspaper reported. The Vietnam Veterans of America worked with the city of Fort Lauderdale and others to get Carter’s grave marker, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The organization also secured a photograph from a baseball team photograph in the Dillard High School yearbook, the newspaper reported. Gregory Carter now lies with his mother, grandparents, three siblings and other relatives at Sunset Memorial Gardens. “If you die you’re just lost until somebody thinks about you again,” Anthony Owens told the Sun-Sentinel. “So his spirit is probably all around us right now. It’s a good thing. He’s doing good.”
  • The wife of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was bitten by a rattlesnake at their Arizona home Friday, the Arizona Republic reported. >> Read more trending news  Ava Arpaio was working on her computer in her office around 10 a.m. when the snake bit her on the left foot, Joe Arpaio told the newspaper. 'She's tough. If she can put up with me for 60 years, then she can handle a snake bite,' Joe Arpaio told the Republic. Joe Arpaio, 86, said the large rattlesnake was removed by fire crews. 'Must've been a Democrat,' the longtime Republican joked to the Republic. Ava Arpaio likely will be in a hospital for 'two or three' days, her husband told the newspaper. Arpaio served as sheriff of Maricopa County for 24 years until losing re-election to Democrat Paul Penzone in 2016. The 86-year-old lawman made national news for his Tent City Jail where inmates were housed in Korean War era army tents, KSAZ reported. >> President Trump pardons Joe Arpaio Joe Arpaio was convicted of a criminal charge in July 2017 for refusing to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. He was pardoned a month later by President Donald Trump.