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BPD asking for help finding 6 foot boa

BEAUMONT - Beaumont Police are asking for help finding a loose, 6 foot Boa Constrictor.

BPD says it was notified that a 6 foot red tailed- Boa Constrictor has eluded his owners from a residence in the 800 block of Central Drive. The Boa was considered a pet, but Do Not attempt to catch it if located. Please notify the Beaumont Police Department at 880-3865 if seen.

Judge refuses to dismiss charges against 6 Baltimore police

PHOTO: Baltimore police officers form a line at the Inner Harbor on Pratt Street as protestors gathered, blocking traffic, Wednesday in Baltimore, as the first court hearing was set to begin in the case of six police officers criminally charged in the death of Freddie Gray.


BALTIMORE (AP) -- A Baltimore judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss charges against six police officers facing criminal charges in connection with the death of a black man seriously injured in their custody. He also refused to remove the prosecutor in the case.


During a pretrial hearing, Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams denied a defense motion for the charges to be dropped against the officers in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who endured a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody on April 12 and died a week later. Gray's death sparked protests, rioting and unrest that lasted for days.


Defense attorneys had sought to drop the charges — which range from second-degree assault to second-degree murder — because of prosecutorial misconduct on the part of State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Williams, however, said that while he was "troubled" by Mosby's public comments regarding initial statements made by the officers to investigators, they are not likely to prejudice a jury.


Andrew Graham, an attorney representing Officer Caesar Goodson, had unsuccessfully argued that Mosby's comments after filing charges against the officers were "reckless and unprofessional," and violated the rules of conduct. He likened Mosby's comments on the case to a "pep rally calling for payback."


Williams also ruled against another defense motion, one that sought to have Mosby removed from the case due to what the defense contended were conflicts of interest.


He called the assertion that Mosby's judgment was impacted by the fact that her husband Nick Mosby is a councilman in a district that experienced a disproportionate amount of violence "troubling and condescending."


"Being married to a councilman is not a reason for recusal," he said.


Williams added that allegations of prosecutorial misconduct must be addressed by the Attorney Grievance Commission.


Williams will hear arguments about whether the officers should be tried together or separately when court resumes later Wednesday.


Officers Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, William Porter and Goodson, as well as Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, face charges in Gray's death. They did not attend the hearing.


All the officers face second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office charges. Rice, Porter and White also face manslaughter charges, and Goodson faces an additional charge of second-degree murder.


Dozens of protesters rallied outside the Baltimore courthouse to express their anger and indignation over Gray's treatment. Many of them then marched in the street to the city's Inner Harbor area, where they blocked a main road briefly. Police lined up behind them, and directed them out of the road. Police handcuffed one protester while he was on his stomach in the street.

Driver flown to hospital after Tyler County head-on crash

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.   


Thomas Priddy, 72, of Warren was injured in the accident and transported by medical helicopter to CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth hospital.


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


According to Trooper Stephanie Davis the crash occurred four miles east of Warren.


A 2007 Chevrolet pickup truck was traveling westbound on FM 1943.  A 2006 Ford pickup truck was traveling eastbound on FM 1943.  Because of a tire blow out on the Chevrolet pickup, the Chevrolet veered into the eastbound traffic lane and collided head-on with the Ford pickup truck.

 

The driver of the Ford pickup truck, Thomas Priddy, 72, of Warren, was extracted from his vehicle and transported to St. Elizabeth hospital in Beaumont by medical helicopter.  The extent of his injuries are unknown.  


The driver of the Chevrolet pickup truck, a 17-year-old student, and his 13-year-old passenger were not injured in the crash.  At the time of the crash, the driver and the passenger in the Chevrolet were headed to school in Warren.

 

Troopers continue to investigate this crash and further information will be released as it becomes available.

Senate Democrats have votes to hand Obama victory on Iran deal

Photo: Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress. (AP file)


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the crucial 34th vote in favor the Iran nuclear deal Wednesday, ensuring a landmark victory for President Barack Obama over ferocious opposition from Republicans and the government of Israel.


"No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime," Mikulski said in a statement. "I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb. For these reasons, I will vote in favor of this deal."


Mikulski's backing gives supporters the margin they need to uphold an expected Obama veto of a congressional resolution of disapproval that Republicans hope to pass later this month.


And it spells failure for opponents of the international agreement who sought to foil it by turning Congress against it. Leading that effort were Israel and its allies in the U.S., who failed to get traction after spending millions of dollars trying.


The agreement signed by Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers limits Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions. Republicans and Israeli leaders contend that concessions made to Iran could empower that country, which has sworn to destroy Israel.


Secretary of State John Kerry is sending a letter to all members of Congress outlining U.S. security commitments to Israel and the Gulf Arab states in light of the nuclear deal. The letter comes as Kerry delivers a major policy speech Wednesday in Philadelphia that focuses on how the international agreement makes the U.S. and its allies safer and how the deal is being mischaracterized by some opponents.


"I really believe the fastest way to a genuine arms race in the Middle East is to not have this agreement," Kerry said in a nationally broadcast interview Wednesday. "Because if you don't have this agreement, Iran has already made clear what its direction is."


With opposition to the agreement failing to take hold on the Democratic side, supporters may even be able to muster the 41 votes needed to block the resolution from passing in the first place, sparing Obama from having to use his veto pen. That would require seven of the 11 remaining undeclared senators to decide in favor of the deal.


Only two Democratic senators have come out against the deal — Chuck Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey — while in recent weeks undeclared Democratic senators, even from red states, have broken in favor one after another.


Even if Congress were able to pass the disapproval resolution, it can't stop the deal, which was agreed to among Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. In July, the U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed the nuclear deal, approving a resolution that would lift the international sanctions on Iran in 90 days.


Interviewed on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Wednesday, Kerry said that the absence of an agreement is what could lead to a nuclear arms race in the region. Putting the deal in place, he said, will keep other nations "from chasing a weapon on their own."


Kerry also said that if the U.S. rejects the deal, it would confirm the fears of Iran's leaders "that you can't deal with the West, that you can't trust the West."

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 GasBuddy.com.

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 http://www.twitter.com/fdemilio 

© 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.  

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