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Texas officials delay homeless housing project

HOUSTON (AP) - Harris County officials are delaying construction on a Houston housing project for homeless people living in a flood-prone area.

The Houston Chronicle reports a county court postponed demolition of a property where the non-profit Housing Corporation of Greater Houston plans to build. A judge says project costs haven't decreased despite a reduction in planned housing units.

Officials say the project is expected to cost several million dollars more than when it was planned five years ago.

The project aims to house more than 100 men and women living in a former motel. They've evacuated during hurricanes and tropical storms at least twice since 2000.

The $1.3 million demolition will be delayed at least three weeks. Construction isn't expected to be completed before January 2016.


House committee scrutinizing Texas foster care

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A legislative committee examining ways to better-protect children in Texas' foster care system is convening for the first time since two foster children drowned over July 4th weekend.

The House Select Committee on Child Protection meets Thursday.

The state's 17,000-child foster system has been under scrutiny since seven children in foster care died of abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2013.

This year, only one such youngster has died. But officials are still investigating two siblings, ages 4 and 6, who drowned July 6 in Lake Georgetown.

The hearing is the fifth of its kind this year on foster care and the Department of Family and Protective Services.

A recent outside review found that child protective caseworkers statewide only spend 26 percent of their job meeting with children and families.


State officials to discuss human trafficking

LA JOYA, Texas (AP) - State health and law enforcement officials are to testify about human trafficking before a panel of state lawmakers in South Texas.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and Dr. Kyle Janek, executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission, are among those expected to appear Thursday before the Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking.

Human trafficking concerns the movement of people for purposes of exploitation, often sexual- or labor-related.

Witnesses will discuss ways to combat human trafficking and services currently available in Texas for its victims, who may be U.S. citizens or immigrants smuggled into the country illegally.

The joint committee is made up state senators and representatives.


State hopes to trace source of intestinal parasite

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - State health officials are trying to trace the origin of an intestinal parasite that has infected 77 Texans so far this year.

In a statement Wednesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services says 77 cases of cyclosporiasis (sye-kloh-spoh-RYE'-ah-sihs) have been reported around Texas this year, including 69 in the last month alone.

The intestinal illness involves watery diarrhea and is caused by the parasite Cyclospora, which is spread through food and water.

Last year, Texas reported 351 cases, more than any other state in the country. In most previous years, the number of cases totaled only in the single or low double digits.

State health officials recommend thoroughly washing fresh produce, although Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off. Cooking will kill the bug, however.


Texas governor's startup fund is not all it seems

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry has distributed $205 million in taxpayer money to scores of technology startups using a pet program designed to bring high-paying jobs and innovation to the nation's second most-populous state.

But a closer look at the Texas Emerging Technology Fund reveals that some of the businesses that received money are not what they seem.

An Associated Press review of the program found that one of the companies actually operates in California. Some have stagnated trying to find more capital. A few have even forfeited their right to do business in Texas by not filing tax reports.

A Perry spokeswoman insists that the governor's office conducts regular compliance checks of the fund. She says fluctuating business activity and employment numbers are the nature of startups.


Deliberations in Ventura trial to enter Day 3

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A jury in St. Paul is set to resume deliberating for a third day whether a man regarded as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history libeled former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in his memoir.

Ventura says Chris Kyle made up a story in his best-seller "American Sniper" about decking him in a California bar in 2006 after Ventura supposedly insulted Navy SEALs. Ventura testified it never happened.

Jurors got the case midday Tuesday. They did not reach a verdict before going home for the day Wednesday.

To rule for Ventura, the jury must find by "clear and convincing evidence" that Kyle knew or believed his story was false, or that Kyle had serious doubts about whether it was true.

Ventura's attorney has asked for millions of dollars in damages.

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