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Judge denies restraining order in immigration case

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A federal judge in Texas has denied a conservative activist's request for an emergency stay of a federal program that transports to other states immigrants who entered the country illegally in South Texas.

In a complaint filed in July, Orly Taitz argued that by sending immigrant children and families to various states while South Texas was overwhelmed, the U.S. government created a public health risk. She called for a two-month quarantine and medical screening for all immigrants detained after entering the country.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on Wednesday told the dentist and lawyer from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, that she could refile an amended complaint.

Taitz is best known as a pioneer of the "birther" movement that questions whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States.


Oil tanker near Texas leaves after legal dispute

HOUSTON (AP) - A tanker carrying crude oil from Kurdistan has left its position near Texas during an ongoing legal dispute with Iraq over its potentially $100 million cargo.

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman tells The Houston Chronicle the United Kalavryta moved from the area near Galveston where it's been for about a month. A maritime tracking system stopped receiving a signal from the ship on Monday.

The tanker arrived with 1 million barrels of oil pumped from the Kurdish areas of Iraq in July. Iraq considers the oil stolen and has sued to stop its sale. Iraq has threatened to sue anyone who helps offload it.

It's unclear if the oil was sold and where the ship went.


Stolen minivan, 5 small children, suspect found

HOUSTON (AP) - A police search has found a daycare center minivan containing five young children and a suspect after the vehicle was reported stolen.

A Houston police statement says two girls and three boys ranging in age from 3 to 12 years were left alone in the vehicle when it vanished about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. Police say the minivan was at a Jack in the Box restaurant at a southeast Houston intersection when it was driven away.

The minivan, all five children and a male suspect were found three hours later in the suburb Cinco Ranch in Fort Bend County, 15 miles northwest of the restaurant.

A police statement says all five children are safe and the suspect is in custody.


Weapons smuggler gets almost 8-year prison term

LAREDO, Texas (AP) - A South Texas man has been sentenced to almost 8 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to a weapons charge for trying to smuggle weapons to Mexico's Zeta drug cartel.

A U.S. Attorney's statement says Richard John Medina received the 93-month sentence Wednesday in federal court in Laredo. A federal agent testified Wednesday that Medina had smuggled firearms and grenades into Mexico for the Zetas.

U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana ordered the 40-year-old Laredo man to remain in custody pending transfer to a federal prison.

Medina, who also was known as "El Guero," could have received a 10-year prison term for his Dec. 10 guilty plea to being a convicted felon possessing multiple firearms and grenades. He was previously convicted of marijuana possession in Williamson County, near Austin.


Judge poised to issue final school finance ruling

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The ongoing dispute over how Texas finances public education is about to reach a milestone.

State District Judge John Dietz's staff says an order of more than 400 pages should be filed in the case Thursday.

Last year, Dietz ruled verbally that how Texas pays for public education is unconstitutional. He said funding was inadequate and unfairly distributed among schools in wealthy and poor areas.

The case isn't resolved until his written ruling is filed, though. It arose from the Legislature cutting $5.4 billion from classroom funding in 2011, prompting more than 600 school districts to sue.

Lawmakers restored about $3.4 billion in 2013.

Dietz's final decision will eventually be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. If it upholds Dietz, the Legislature will have to devise a new funding scheme.


Human skull donated to Austin Goodwill store

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Police have asked for the public's help to locate whoever donated a human skull to an Austin thrift store.

Homicide Detective Derek Israel said Wednesday that foul play was not suspected in the person's death. He says he just wants to know how the skull came to be in an unspecified container left at the store.

Goodwill staff discovered the skull while sifting through donations on July 16. A spokeswoman says it could have been gifted up to a week prior to its discovery.

Israel says the skull is from an adult. No other details about it have been released.

This is at least the fourth skull to be donated to the international nonprofit this summer. Three were donated in July to a Goodwill store in Bellevue, Washington.


Perry says GOP Congress is key to solving problems

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry is telling the South Carolina GOP that it's important for Republicans to control Congress so they can solve the country's immigration problem and other national issues.

The potential presidential candidate is kicking off two days of events with a fundraising party Wednesday night in Columbia for the South Carolina Republican Party.

Perry was a yell leader at Texas A&M, and his beloved Aggies open the college football season Thursday against South Carolina.

Perry ran for president in 2012, but dropped out before South Carolina's first-in-the-South primary after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary.

Democrats are criticizing Perry's visit after his indictment earlier this month over a veto he issued. Perry calls the case politically motivated.


University of Texas gets $10 million art gift

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A Houston couple has donated a private Latin American art collection valued at nearly $10 million to the University of Texas.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Charles and Judy Tate gifted 120 modern and contemporary pieces to the university's Blanton Museum of Art. The UT alumni also gave more than $1 million to an endowment that supports a Latin American curatorship.

The art includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and mixed-media works.

Charles Tate says they always intended to give their collection to their alma mater.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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