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DPS working 2-vehicle accident on FM 1943 in Tyler County

TYLER COUNTY -- DPS reports they are working a two-vehicle accident in Tyler County on FM 1943 that happened shortly before 8 am this morning. 

Stay tuned to KFDM at Noon for more details and to throughout the day.

GasBuddy: cheapest Labor Day pump prices in over a decade

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (GasBuddy) -- Americans hitting the road this weekend stand to see the cheapest Labor Day prices at the pump in over a decade, leading to huge savings- $1.4 billion- over the four day weekend.

"August gasoline prices plummeted by 18 cents per gallon, the greatest decrease since 2008, and as a result we have a national average that’s 99 cents lower than a year ago ($2.44 versus $3.43). I'm sure motorists will have plenty of company on the nation’s thoroughfares this weekend," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for

While motorists enjoy the cheapest Labor Day prices in over a decade, GasBuddy currently identifies as many as 19 states where at least one retail outlet is already selling gas below $2, while South Carolina is the lone state to see an average under that level: $1.995/gal. Nationally, gas prices stand some 21 cents below where they were just a month ago.

This weekend, GasBuddy analysts predict nearly 70% of the nation’s gas stations to be priced at under $2.50/gallon compared to 0% last year (currently 65.9%). A fact that may shock motorists: over the last 14 Labor Day weekends, the holiday itself had the lowest average: $2.744/gallon, while it was $2.75 for Sunday and $2.751 for Saturday and Friday.

Motorists in the south will spend the least, with 68.4% of stations in South Carolina at $1.99 or less. Other states that saw plenty of sub $2/gal gasoline: Alabama: 44.4%, Mississippi: 40.1%, Tennessee: 21.4%, Louisiana: 19.5%, Virginia: 17.8%, Arkansas: 10.4%. Nationally, some 8,060 stations are currently offering gas at $1.99/gal or lower.

Pope: Priests in Holy Year can absolve 'sin of abortion'

VATICAN CITY (AP) --  Pope Francis is applying his vision of a merciful church to women who have had abortions, easing their path toward forgiveness and saying he realizes some felt they had no choice but to make "this agonizing and painful decision."

In a letter published Tuesday by the Holy See, Francis said he was allowing all rank-and-file priests to grant absolution during the Holy Year of Mercy he has proclaimed, which runs Dec. 8, 2015 until Nov. 20, 2016.

The Roman Catholic Church views abortion as such a grave sin that it put the matter of granting forgiveness for an abortion in the hands of a bishop, who could either hear the woman's confession himself or delegate that to a priest who is expert in such situations.

Now, Francis is making it possible for women to bypass this formalized process in the approaching special Year of Mercy while putting the stress on "contrite" hearts.

In a statement after the pope's letter, the Vatican made clear that "forgiveness of the sin of abortion does not condone abortion nor minimize its grave effects. The newness is clearly Pope Francis' pastoral approach."

In the United States, many bishops already allow priests to absolve women who have had abortions, while in other dioceses, bishops have reserved the decision for themselves, said the Rev. James Martin, editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America.

The pope's directive on Tuesday "reminds priests of the need for mercy, and it also takes a very pastoral tone toward women who have had an abortion," Martin said.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who will be hosting Francis in the city later this month during the papal U.S. pilgrimage, noted that priests in his diocese have had the authority to forgive the sin of abortion for about three decades.

"I hope that this announcement by the Holy Father will encourage many people to come forward to find the true peace and healing through this beautiful and tender Sacrament of Reconciliation," Dolan wrote on his blog.

Francis made clear he isn't downplaying the gravity of abortion, which the church essentially views as equivalent to murder. But he emphasized that abortion is an intensely personal, often anguished choice for women.

"The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails," Francis wrote. "Many others on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe that they have no other option."

Francis drew on decades of pastoral experience with faithful in his native Argentina, including as Buenos Aires archbishop.

"I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision," the pope wrote.

"I am well aware of the pressure that led them to this decision," Francis said. "I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal."

"The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the sacrament of confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father," the pope said.

That is why he has decided to concede to all priests "the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it," Francis said.

His words found welcome on his home continent.

In Brazil, which counts more Catholics than any other nation and where abortion is permitted only when a woman's life is endangered, polls routinely show well over two-thirds of Brazilians think their abortion laws should stay strict.

But Renata Maia, a 36-year-old mother of two, welcomed the pope's move as she walked up the steps of a church in Rio de Janeiro.

"While I'm against taking a life, I also know that women who have had abortions need forgiveness," Maia said.

Rosangela Talib, a coordinator at the Sao Paulo-based group Catholics for the Right to Decide, welcomed the development, but said "it would be far more important if it didn't have an expiration date."

"It should be permanent, not just during the Year of Mercy," she said.

Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, executive director of a New York-based abortion rights organization, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, called it significant the pope "recognizes the need to talk about abortion." But she said Francis' statement perpetuates the idea that women who have an abortion should be ashamed.   "We reject any attempt to impose judgment or shame on someone based on deeply personal decisions about health, pregnancy and whether to become a parent," Gonzalez-Rojas said..   Maureen Tilley, a theologian at Fordham University, noted that under some circumstances, a woman who has had an abortion is automatically excommunicated if she wasn't under coercion or suffering from a psychological problem that affected her decision-making.   To be readmitted to the church, it's customary for the woman to be asked to perform some penance, such as making a pilgrimage, along with seeking absolution. Some 30 million faithful are expected to come to Rome on Year of Mercy pilgrimages.

"We haven't seen any doctrinal changes, but by emphasizing mercy, Francis can affect the way people see the Church," University of Notre Dame theology professor Candida Moss, said in an emailed comment. "And a change in tone can, in this case, amount to a change in character."

Popes have been calling holy years since 1300, for special blessings and the forgiveness of sins. Those who can are urged to make a pilgrimage to Rome, while others who can't travel are asked to participate by performing an act of penance. These jubilees are typically held every 25 or 30 years, but the pope has the discretion to call them at any time. The last jubilee was in 2000, called by Pope John Paul II.

Almost lost in the intense attention Tuesday over the pope's comments on abortion was Francis' reaching out to a schismatic group of ultra-conservative, traditionalist Catholics, as he is determined to stress what unites instead of what divides.

Francis wrote that priests of a breakaway group, the Fraternity of St. Pius X, can absolve faithful of their sins in this special time.

"This Year of Mercy excludes no one," Francis said, expressing hope that "near-future solutions" may bring full community with the group's priests and superiors. Those who approach these priests in the Holy Year "shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins," Francis said.

Theology professor Moss described the pope's weighing in on such diverse issues as abortion and the breakaway ultra-conservative group as typical of a "one-two, liberal-conservative punch for Francis."

--   AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll contributed from New York and Associated Press Writer Brad Brooks contributed from Rio de Janeiro.

---   Frances D'Emilio can be followed on Twitter at 

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.  

New felony charge against murder suspect

JASPER COUNTY - By Steve W Stewart/KJAS and Rayburn Broadcasting Company

A new felony charge has been filed against a man who, along with his girlfriend, are accused of murdering an elderly man near Jasper late last year. According to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a charge of attempted robbery has been added to the list of charges against Robert Kelly Mounts, 48, of Vidor.

Mounts and Ashley Nicole Lewis, 29, of Newton, are accused of the November 2014 murder of 85-year-old Herbert W. Deaton at his home west of Jasper. Investigators say the pair took Deaton’s pickup truck and credit cards and used them for several weeks as they fled the area and the State of Texas. Jasper County Sheriff Mitchel Newman says along the way they committed more crimes to finance their flight from justice before they were eventually captured several months later in an Indiana motel room several months later.

Mounts is now charged with Murder, Tampering with Evidence, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, and Credit Card or Debit Card Abuse of an Elderly Person, all in Jasper County, along with Attempted Felony Class 5 Robbery in Colorado and two charges of Sexual Assault in Maine.

Lewis is charged with Murder and Credit Card or Debit Card Abuse of an Elderly Person, both in Jasper County.

Mounts and Lewis remain in the Jasper County Jail.

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