Archive for Real Estate

Eight Found Dead in Texas Truck in Suspected Human Trafficking

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) – Eight people believed to be illegal immigrants being smuggled into the United States were found dead inside a sweltering 18-wheeler trailer parked behind a Walmart store in San Antonio, Texas, early on Sunday, authorities said.

Another 30 people, many suffering from heat stoke and exhaustion, were with the bodies in the trailer, which lacked air conditioning or a water supply, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

The truck’s driver was arrested and will be charged, said Richard Durbin, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, and prosecutors will work to identify others responsible.

“These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters,” Durbin said in a statement, adding the heat in southern Texas is “punishing” at this time of year.

“Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer in 100-plus degree heat,” he said. They were victims of “ruthless human smugglers indifferent to the well-being of their fragile cargo,” he added.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus described it as a “horrible tragedy,” and said other suspects had fled the scene as police officers arrived.

“Checking the video, there were a number of vehicles that came and picked up other people who were in that trailer,” McManus said.

Twenty people were airlifted to seven hospitals and their conditions were “critical to very critical,” fire chief Hood said. Eight others are hospitalized in less serious condition, he said.

The people range from school-age juveniles to adults in their twenties and thirties, he said.

McManus said officials were led to the scene by a man who approached a store employee asking for water.

McManus said the Department of Homeland Security had joined the investigation. The origin of the truck is unclear, he added.

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Texas Lawmakers Clash over Contentious Transgender Bathroom Bill

Less than two months after failing to pass a “bathroom bill” restricting access for transgender people, Texas lawmakers are trying again amid fierce opposition from Democrats, civil rights groups and leading businesses.

A special legislative session will start on Tuesday in Austin. Among the main items on the agenda is a measure to limit transgender access to restrooms and changing facilities. The issue is the latest battleground in the conflict in Texas between moderate, pragmatic Republicans and far-right, ideologically driven conservatives emboldened by the rise of Donald Trump.

That clash is embodied by antipathy between two of the state’s most important politicians: Joe Straus, speaker of the House and a relative moderate, and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a Christian conservative who was the state chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign.

Passing a bathroom bill is a top priority for Patrick. In a sign of the pressure being placed on moderates as Texas politics lurches even farther rightwards, the GOP in Straus’s home county last week passed a resolution calling for him to be replaced as speaker, in protest at his lack of enthusiasm for a bathroom bill.

A reported conversation between Straus and a state senator friendly to Patrick was recounted in the New Yorker, which quoted Straus as saying he was “disgusted by all this. Tell the lieutenant governor I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.”

Critics contend that a bathroom bill will stigmatize an already vulnerable part of the population and fear that children will seek to avoid using school toilets by skipping meals and drinks.

Supporters argue, without evidence, that a bathroom bill is necessary to safeguard privacy and will improve public safety by offering protection against sexual predators.

In March, the Texas senate passed a bill obliging people in public buildings such as schools and universities to use restrooms and changing facilities that comport with their “biological sex” as written on birth certificates. The House approved a modified version applying only to public schools. But Patrick and the Senate rejected that measure as insufficient.

After the 140-day regular legislative session, Republican governor Greg Abbott called a special session to address unfinished business. There are 20 items, including the bathroom bill and anti-abortion measures.

Among the options lawmakers will consider is a statewide move to supersede existing local non-discrimination ordinances in cities such as Austin and Dallas. This would stop entities such as school districts from following or creating policies that accommodate transgender people.

Abbott has argued for uniform rules across the state. Critics charge that Republicans are seeking to impose unwanted policies on Democratic-leaning big cities such as Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

“These anti-LGBTQ bills are part of a larger, overarching strategy to roll back the rights of LGBTQ Texans,” JoDee Winterhof, senior vice-president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign, said on a conference call with reporters.

“Ever since marriage equality became the law of the land after the [US supreme court’s 2015] decision in the Obergefell case, legislatures around the country have been introducing blatantly discriminatory bills at state level in order to curtail or roll back the rights of our community. These bills come in many forms but the latest form they have taken is discrimination against transgender people.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said on the call that proponents of bathroom bills were “trying to score political points with lies and scare tactics”.

In Texas, such a bill would be popular with the core constituency of many of the politicians who back it: staunch suburban and rural conservatives who turn out in large numbers for Republican primary elections.

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released last month found that 44% of all respondents consider a bathroom bill to be “important” and 47% “not important”. But among those who identify as Tea Party supporters, 70% said it is important, a figure that grew as the issue was discussed extensively this year.

Texas led a legal challenge to federal guidelines introduced by the Obama administration last year that told schools to provide facilities for transgender students that align with their gender identity. The Trump administration rescinded the guidance in February, boosting bathroom bill advocates.

However, moderates such as Straus fear economic boycotts of the kind that rippled through North Carolina when it introduced a bathroom bill in 2016.

IBM has taken out full-page advertisements opposing the bill in Texas newspapers and plans to send senior employees to Austin to lobby against it, the Dallas Morning News reported. Other technology companies with a significant presence in Texas, including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, have also criticized the plan.

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Splash ‘Dancing’ at the Dallas Zoo with Zola the Gorilla

Gorilla shows off splash-dancing moves 00:44

(CNN)There seems to be a lot more going on behind the scenes at the Dallas Zoo — including some splashy dance moves by Zola the gorilla.

The Zoo released video this week of the 14-year-old Western Lowland gorilla dancing in a kiddie pool and the footage has gone viral — with almost a million views on YouTube.

“Zola’s “dancing” is really just a play behavior (there was no breakdance music playing in the building, we promise),” the Dallas Zoo said in a news release. The gorilla’s willingness to play apparently shows that it’s content or comfortable.

Some are comparing Zola’s dance to the famous water scene in the 1983 movie Flashdance. Others on social media are adding their own Flashdance music, including “Maniac.”

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High Dollar Pac Causing Stir as Dallas Runoff Elections Approach

A Dallas political action committee funneling large amounts of money into particular city council campaigns is raising eyebrows among members of competitive races and complaints of “dark money” buying elections. (Photo: Steve Rainwater / Flickr, Composite: NDG)

When city council candidate Eric L. Williams stepped up to the microphone during the Monday Night Politics forum on March 20 at Fair Park’s African American Museum, he didn’t mince words as to why he was running for the District 8 seat in South Dallas.

“I’m not going to drink the Mayor’s Kool-aid,” Williams said, adding that $200,000 had “bought” the District race back in 2015.

Allegations of “North Dallas money buying South Dallas elections” is nothing new, but a political action committee (PAC) with a purse approaching just about that amount is causing a stir as the city moves toward runoff races in three districts. According to documents received and compiled by the North Dallas Gazette staff, the “For Our Community PAC” has spent more than $195,000 on various campaigns in the 2017 election (as of the April 28 filing of campaign expenditures, there were further donations received after that date). The PAC consists of high-dollar donors, with one individual contributing $100,000 alone. For Our Community PAC is at least linked to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings through Mari Woodlief, who runs the PAC and is also Rawlings’ political consultant.

Williams is no longer in the race for District 8, having been eliminated in the first round of voting. The For Our Community PAC backed his opponent, incumbent Erik Wilson, to the tune of more than $24,000.

Wilson now faces returning council member Tennell Atkins in a runoff race. Atkins has been quite successful in raising funds himself (out-spending Wilson as of the end of April). Atkins also received the highest number of votes in the May 6 election, but with a wide and diverse field in that race, no candidate gained a clear majority in the first round of voting.

But District 8 in South Dallas was not at the top of the list for expenditures. With one exception, all the candidates supported by For Our Community PAC are incumbents seeking reelection. The one exception was the District 14 race in which the PAC backed challenger Matt Wood over incumbent Philip T. Kingston. Kingston is often referred to as a thorn in the side of the council’s status quo, opposing the mayor on a variety of issues ranging from the handling of the Police and Fire Pension crisis to the proposed Trinity River tollway.

Between supporting Wood and specifically opposing Kingston, For Our Community PAC’s expenditures in the District 14 race exceeded the six-figure mark, including the production of a video which portrayed Kingston as a rude and combative element on the city council. Despite the effort, Kingston managed to pass through the May 6 election unscathed, garnering more than 54 percent of the vote outright and avoiding a runoff.

In West Dallas, For Our Community PAC supported incumbent Monica Alonzo, which drew some criticism associated with the reported opposition to HB 2480 by Alonzo’s brother, Texas Sen. Roberto L. Alonzo. The bill which was filed by Texas Rep. Eric Johnson to alleviate pressure from growing property taxes in the West Dallas district caused by the incursion of new investment was killed in a political maneuver by GOP lawmakers in Austin. With a $10,000 donation to the PAC from the co-founders of West Dallas Investments, some questions of motive were raised.

However, Johnson’s bill was one of more than 100 bills killed by the Republican Freedom Caucus in a move that is now being called the “Mother’s Day Massacre” and is being chalked up to partisan in-fighting in the legislature. HB 2480 was officially returned to Calendars Committee on May 12. Also, Alonzo and fellow incumbents Casey Thomas and Rick Callahan received, by far, the lowest level of financial support from the PAC. All three combined totaled less than $21,000.

The For Our Community PAC also weighed in heavily in the District 7, lending its support of more than $24,000 to incumbent Tiffinni A. Young. Young received the highest number of votes in the May 6 election, but did not gain a clear majority and will face challenger Kevin Felder in a runoff.

While the contributions of the For Our Community PAC have left many grumbling, no one has suggested the PAC has done anything illegal. All indications are that the election rules were followed and these donations are allowable.

There are many voices being heard across the country calling for campaign finance reform, and assertions that money plays too big a role in U.S. elections. It was the primary rallying cry of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. Until such laws are changed, voters can expect to see such PAC activities continue.

(Disclosure: The North Dallas Gazette endorsed eight candidates in the May 6 election. NDG endorsed the same candidate as For Our Community PAC in the District 3 race, Casey Thomas; and endorsed opposing candidates, Tammy Johnston in District 7, and Tennell Atkins in District 8. NDG reached out to For Our Community PAC for comment, but did not receive a reply by press time.)

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Missile From Test Site

North Korea Launches Missile From Test Site, US Officials Say

(CBSNEWS) – North Korea launched a missile from a test facility near the country’s west coast early Sunday morning, U.S. officials tell CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

Reuters earlier reported the firing of unidentified projectile, citing a South Korean military official. The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that the object appeared to be a ballistic missile.

U.S. officials said they were still assessing whether the launch was successful and trying to determine what kind of missile was tested.

Although the type of missile is not known, the U.S. had been expecting the North to fire a KN-17 medium-range ballistic missile.

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Decades-Old Tree

Neighbors in Lake Highlands Help Save a Decades-Old Tree

A fight over a decades-old tree in a Dallas neighborhood leaves one man in handcuffs.

The tree in the Lake Highlands area has long served as a photo opportunity for neighbors.

“It provided this great horizontal bench that everyone sat on for pictures and the children climbed on it,” said Amy Martin, who lives in the area.

On Thursday, neighbors said a man with a chainsaw began buzzing his way through the place that served as a playground for so many.

Martin said neighbors confronted the man, 65-year-old Albert Santos, and told him to stop.

“That guy would have taken the whole tree if we didn’t stop him. He would have taken the entire tree,” said Martin.

She said one neighbor even used his truck to block Santos until the police arrived.

“The tree is decimated. It’s absolutely decimated. This is its fourth vandalism attack, but what this man did was he basically destroyed the defining feature of the tree… which was the horizontal trunk.”

For his part, Santos said he thought the tree had been damaged in a storm and was fair game to cut down.

After being charged with criminal mischief, Santos now claims he only wants to make things right.

“I’d be willing to put something there, and spend my time and money to let them know how sorry I am. Because I just don’t go around doing that,” Santos said.

Martin said she hopes in the future that people will leave their beloved tree alone.

“We’re just going to have to learn to love the way the tree looks now. It’s always going to be our landmark tree, but it doesn’t look like it used to. It will never be the same,” she said.

DFW Adoption Program Gives Animals a Second Chance

An estimated six to eight million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year. Millions more are abandoned, only to suffer from illness or injury before dying according to the Doris Day animal league. But DFW Rescue Me wants to have a positive impact on these statistics through adoption programs.

CLICK HERE for DFW Rescue Me’s Kibble and Cocktails event information.

NBC 5 Viewers Share Videos of Storms March 26, 2017

NBC 5 viewers shared videos of storms that moved across North Texas on March 26, 2017.

Looks like a driving rangeLooks like a driving range

Hail south of DecaturHail south of Decatur

Hit and Run Accident

Fort Worth Girl Killed in Hit and Run Accident

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Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

New Features Available in NBCDFW’s Interactive Radar

The interactive radar on NBCDFW’s digital properties just got a little smarter, with an exclusive presentation you can’t find anywhere else.

When you visit the interactive radar on, or NBCDFW’s app on iPhone or iPad you’ll see a unique new feature.

When “Live Radar” is selected in layers, you’ll see NBC 5’s S Band Radar, but when you zoom out to look at the entire country, you’ll have the opportunity to view any available fixed NBC-owned radar in the country.

The radar presentation also shows any of the three StormRanger vehicles that are active in the country.

The unique new radar feature was launched on Tuesday. A StormRanger vehicle could be seen on the map near Boston. (see video above)

Tapping any of the icons takes you to that radar sweep.

NBC is the only network to have this unique radar presentation.

The “Live Radar” layer will be available on Android apps Wednesday.

Along with the Texas Storm Fleet, the new layer added to the interactive S Bandradar is the latest tool aimed at bringing you the best storm coverage in North Texas.