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Plane-crash co-pilot may have hidden illness, prosecutor says

MONTABAUR, Germany (AP) -- Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz appears to have hidden evidence of an illness from his employers, including having been excused by a doctor from work on Tuesday, the day authorities say he crashed a passenger plane into a mountain, prosecutors said.

The evidence came from searches of Lubitz's homes in two German cities as authorities sought an explanation of why he locked himself into the cockpit and crashed the Airbus A320 into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.

Torn-up sick notes for the day of the crash "support the current preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues," Duesseldorf prosecutors' office spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said Friday. Such sick notes from doctors excusing employees from work are common in Germany, even for minor illnesses.

Prosecutors didn't say what type of illness - mental or physical - Lubitz may have been suffering from. German media reported Friday that the 27-year-old had suffered from depression.

A Duesseldorf hospital confirmed Friday that Lubitz had been a patient there over the past two months. Duesseldorf University Hospital said he last came to the hospital for a "diagnostic evaluation" on March 10. It declined to provide details of his condition but denied reports that it had treated Lubitz for depression.

Investigators removed multiple boxes of items from Lubitz's apartment in Duesseldorf and his parents' house in Montabaur, near Frankfurt.

Herrenbrueck said the medical documents found indicated "an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment" but no suicide note was found. He added there was no indication of any political or religious motivation for Lubitz's actions.

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Texas unemployment rate drops to 4.3 percent; SE Texas drops to 6.3

BEAUMONT --Figures released today show the Texas unemployment rate dropped .1 percent to 4.3 in February -- the state's lowest unemployment rate since February 2008.

(Note: the Beaumont region numbers are not seasonally adjusted)

Beaumont-Port Arthur Labor Market Profile.

Texas Workforce Press Release on unemployment rate.


The unemployment rate in the Golden Triangle was 6.3 percent in February down from 7.1 in January.  In February of last year the rate here stood at 9.2 percent.

The number of unemployed workers in the Golden Triangle dropped to 11,471 last month -- the lowest number since May of 2008 when it was 10,414. 


The number of people working in February here rose to a level of 170,603 -- the most since October when 170,977 were employed in the Golden Triangle. 

That was a gain of 7,400 more employed in this region than a year ago. 

The largest gain in jobs here was in Mining, Logging and Construction which posted a yearly gain of 9,700 jobs.

The largest losses were in Other Service category and Government which both lost 800 jobs over the year.


Fueled by an impressive expansion in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities industry, Texas saw continued seasonally adjusted job growth in February. 

The Trade, Transportation and Utilities industry saw its largest monthly increase in more than 20 years with the addition of 16,300 jobs. 

The state experienced a net gain of 7,100 nonagricultural jobs in February with 357,300 positions added over the year.

"We are pleased that Texas employers continue to create opportunities,"said Texas Workforce Commission(TWC) Chairman Andres Alcantar. "Our state offers many competitive advantages to employers who choose todo businessin Texas, including a highly skilled workforce."

Texas, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in February, down from 4.4 percent in January. 

Texas continues to maintain an unemployment rate well below the U.S. national unemployment rate which now stands at 5.5 percent.

"The continued decline in our state's unemployment rate is encouraging," said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton. 

"The Texas workforce is strong and employers know that they will find skilled workers to match their hiring needs in our state."

Five of 11 major industries added jobs in February. The Leisure and Hospitality industry added an estimated 9,700 positions in February and grew by 55,500 positions over the year, for an annual growth rate of 4.8 percent.

Texas employers also added jobs in Construction, Other Services and Financial Activities, which increased by a combined total of 2,800 jobs.

"Private-sector employers added 9,700 jobs in Texas in February," said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Hope Andrade. 

"We appreciate the investment that these companies have made in their local communities and we look forward to being a resource for them as they continue to grow in the Lone Star State."

Beaumont-Port Arthur Labor Market Profile.

Texas Workforce Press Release on unemployment rate.

Two face charges related to Evadale store robbery

by Steve W Stewart (KJAS and Rayburn Broadcasting Company)

JASPER -- The Jasper County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday officially charged a pair of suspects after the two were accused of being involved in a convenience store robbery in Evadale.

Jasper County jailers say Bryant Burrell, 28, of Evadale, has been charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and his bond has been set at $10,000, while Tracy Earl Justice, Jr., also 28 and also of Evadale, was charged with driving while license invalid and his bond was set at $1,500.00.

However, jailers say Justice will be charged with aggravated robbery on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, both men remain behind bars.

Jasper County Chief Deputy Glenn Blank says the crime occurred shortly after 9:00 on Monday evening at the Rebel Food Mart, located on Farm to Market Road 105, south of U.S. Highway 96.

According to Blank, the investigation revealed that Burrell entered the store, while Justice stayed in a Jeep that they were using. Blank said Burrell indicated to the clerk that he had a gun, but never actually showed one, and instead held a knife to the clerk’s chest and demanded money.

After handing over an undetermined amount of cash, Blank said both suspects left in the Jeep.

Blank said Sheriff Mitchel Newman, in the course of the investigation, was able to determine the identity of both men, and he then called each one and asked them to meet with him at the sheriff's department sub-station in Evadale, which they did, and each was arrested.

Sheriff Newman said on Wednesday that he has obtained at least one confession in the case.

Judge in Texas blocks federal rules change for gay couples
AUSTIN, Texas -- A federal judge in Texas has blocked temporarily federal rules that would have expanded medical leave benefits to some gay couples. 
In a 24-page ruling filed Thursday in Wichita Falls, Texas, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor granted a preliminary injunction that stays expansion of the definition of "spouse" under the Family and Medical Leave Act to include same-sex couples. Texas filed suit last week to block Friday's implementation of the change.
 Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that complying with the new regulations would have forced state agencies to either violate federal rules or a 2005 ban in the Texas Constitution on gay marriage. Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska subsequently joined the lawsuit. 
U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas says department attorneys are studying the opinion. 
(Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Steelworkers approve contract with Total

PORT ARTHUR - Union members have approved a new contract with the Total Refinery in Port Arthur.

The United Steelworkers Union okayed a four year deal during two ratification meetings Thursday, according to information provided to KFDM News by Richard 'Hoot' Landry of the USW.

The contract follows the national pattern set by Shell and the union.

In other labor news, Landry tells KFDM the union submitted a proposal to ExxonMobil last week and is awaiting a response.

Program note -- 6 News Tonight will air after the basketball game
Program Note  -- Because of the NCAA Tournament, "March Madness," tonight's late news will be delayed till after the game scheduled to start on CBS at 8:45.  Stay with us.  It was a busy news day.

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