KPYN NEWS FOR THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16TH, 2017
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Pope Francis wades into US oil pipeline dispute
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has insisted that indigenous peoples must give prior consent for any economic activity on their ancestral lands — an indirect critique as the Donald Trump administration seeks to advance construction on a $3.8 billion oil pipeline over opposition from American Indians.
Francis met Wednesday with representatives of indigenous peoples attending a U.N. agricultural meeting in Rome. He said the key issue facing them is how to reconcile the right to development with protection of their cultures and territories.
He said “the right to prior and informed consent” should always prevail especially “when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the Earth.”
The Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes are suing to stop the Dakota Access project.
TRUMP TRAVEL BAN-STATES
Texas splits with other states, defends Trump travel ban
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Texas is splitting with other states and defending President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed documents with the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday asking the court to reconsider its decision not to immediately reinstate the ban. Paxton says the ban is a legal exercise of presidential authority.
A three-judge panel last Thursday refused to block a lower court decision that suspended the ban. The panel rejected the Trump administration’s claim of presidential authority and concluded that the order was unlikely to survive the legal challenge mounted by the states of Washington and Minnesota.
The 9th Circuit will decide whether to have a larger panel of judges reconsider that decision.
FUGITIVE HEIR-THE LATEST
The Latest: Mystery witness was friend of victim, accused
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A mystery witness in the murder case against New York real estate heir Robert Durst murder case was a friend of the millionaire and the victim.
Nathan “Nick” Chavin arrived in a courtroom Wednesday with a private security detail.
Chavin says he met Durst through their friend, Susan Berman, who was killed in Los Angeles in 2000.
Durst has pleaded not guilty to murder in the fatal shooting of Berman.
The testimony comes in a rare hearing to preserve testimony of elderly witnesses and those who fear for their safety.
Chavin was one of two witnesses whose identities have been shrouded in mystery before taking the stand.
A prosecutor has suggested Chavin has information that could “bury” Durst.
Chavin says Durst had an open marriage and dated other women.
Texas tries new anti-abortion strategy after high court loss
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The long, bitter battle over Texas’ new efforts to further restrict abortion has begun in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Top conservatives have shifted strategy from offering past legislation they say protected women’s health to instead saying they’re safeguarding fetuses. The change comes after the U.S. Supreme Court last summer voided much of Texas tough, past abortion limits.
One bill being heard Wednesday by a Senate committee would mostly ban a commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure, “dilation and evacuation.” Federal courts have blocked similar bans in four other states.
Another major proposal requires burying or cremating fetal remains. A Texas health department rule doing the same thing already was blocked in federal court.
A third proposal bans donating fetal tissue after the 2015 release of secretly recorded videos from Planned Parenthood clinics.
Lieutenant governor promotes Texas bathroom bill nationally
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has appeared with the head of a powerful national conservative group to promote Texas’ proposed “bathroom bill.”
Patrick is the leading advocate for a proposal requiring Texans to use public bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate.
Patrick on Wednesday appeared with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who also spoke with North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. North Carolina passed a similar law last year, sparking boycotts from lucrative sporting events and rock concerts.
“We’re fighting back” Patrick told Perkins, saying Texas is defending “common decency.” The Texas bill ultimately may not pass the GOP-controlled Legislature.
Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t fully endorsed it, while business groups are bitterly opposed. The NFL and nearly 150 top music and Hollywood stars also have condemned it.
Baylor official accused of throttling reporter cleared
WACO, Texas (AP) — A grand jury has declined an indictment against a Baylor University athletics official charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly grabbing a reporter by the throat following a football game.
The McLennan County grand jury declined the indictment Wednesday against associate athletic director Heath Nielsen. The 17-year Baylor spokesman was accused of grabbing James McBride, a reporter for the Keller-based Texas Blaze newspaper, as McBride tried to take a picture with a Baylor player on Nov. 5.
According to an arrest affidavit, McBride said Nielsen told him he was violating his media privileges. The affidavit says McBride had visible scratches and complained of pain around his throat. McBride also told police it hurt to swallow.
Nielsen, who denied the charges, is no longer listed on the Baylor athletics website.
OIL PIPELINE-CAMP CLEANUP-THE LATEST
The Latest: State to help with pipeline protest camp cleanup
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum says the state is willing to help clean up a camp on federal land that’s been home at times to thousands of Dakota Access pipeline opponents.
Officials fear the camp will soon flood and wash tons of debris into nearby waterways.
The Standing Rock Sioux began coordinating a cleanup in late January, but state officials say it isn’t going fast enough. Burgum says the state could start lining up additional contractors as early as Thursday. He says who would pay the cost could be decided later.
The Army Corps of Engineers also plans to help with cleanup. The agency will shut down the camp Feb. 22. Burgum has issued an evacuation order to complement the Corps deadline. He says arresting people would be a last resort.
DENTAL THERAPISTS-PULLING TEETH
Would you let someone who’s not a dentist pull your teeth?
BOSTON (AP) — Need a tooth pulled or a cavity filled? Forget the dentist. An increasing number of states are allowing or considering letting “dental therapists,” professionals with a lower level of training, do the job.
Several states are considering bills that would create a new midlevel position in dentistry called dental therapists or advanced dental hygiene practitioners.
They can perform common procedures such as filling cavities or pulling teeth, though more complex procedures would still be left with dentists. Public health advocates say dental therapists can greatly improve access to dental care for low-income people and those who live in rural areas.
In Massachusetts, a group that lobbies on behalf of dentists has for the first time signaled a willingness to embrace the concept.
Dentists have long opposed the midlevel position.
DAY WITHOUT IMMIGRANTS
‘Day Without Immigrants’ protests being held across US
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Immigrants across the country are expected to stay home from school and work on Thursday to show how critical they are to the U.S. economy and way of life.
“A Day Without Immigrants” actions are planned in cities including Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, Houston, Chicago and New York. The protest gained momentum on social media and by word of mouth.
It comes in response to President Donald Trump, whose administration has pledged to increase the deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally. Trump campaigned on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and blamed high unemployment on immigration. As president, he’s called for a ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming into the U.S.
Organizers expect thousands of people to participate or show solidarity with workers.
Police chief interrupts asset forfeiture news conference
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A small town Texas police chief has crashed a news conference held by state Senate and House lawmakers trying to reform asset forfeiture laws.
Tracy Aaron of the Mansfield Police Department interrupted Wednesday’s proceedings at the state Capitol to say he was offended by remarks that authorities are “policing for profits.”
Democratic state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa made the comment but left before Aaron spoke. A brief exchange between the chief and Republican state Sen. Konni Burton ensued.
A bi-partisan push to reform asset forfeiture laws that critics say police abuse as a funding source has received new attention. That came after President Donald Trump recently told a Texas sheriff they could “destroy” the career of an unnamed state lawmaker championing the effort.
Mansfield is a suburb south of Dallas.