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Posted: Nov 16, 2012 3:22 AM

Updated: Nov 16, 2012 3:26 AM

VETERANS PARADE-TRAIN CRASH

Deadly train-parade float crash in Texas probed

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) Federal officials are heading to West Texas to join investigators looking into why a freight train slammed into a parade float carrying wounded veterans, killing four people and injuring 17 others.

Witnesses described a harrowing scene Thursday afternoon as the Union Pacific locomotive beard down on the decorated flatbed truck as it tried to clear the rail crossing on its way to an honorary banquet.

The train was sounding its horn and people on the flatbed truck mostly wounded veterans and their spouses were scrambling to jump off before the collision in Midland, according to witnesses and Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange.

A preliminary investigation indicates the crossing gate and lights were working, Lange said, though he didn't know if the train crew saw the float approaching.

TEXAS EXECUTION

Man executed for killing Houston cousins, 15 and 3

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) Convicted killer Preston Hughes has been executed for the fatal stabbing of a 3-year-old boy and the child's teenage cousin.

The 46-year-old Hughes insisted he was innocent of the attack and that police had planted evidence and coerced his confessions to killing 15-year-old Shandra Charles and Marcell Taylor 24 years ago in a Houston field.

As she was dying, Charles told a police officer a man she knew as "Preston" had tried to rape her. Hughes already was on probation for sexual assault of a child and was the only Preston living in apartments near the murder scene.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from Hughes hours before he was put to death.

Hughes became the 15th Texas prisoner executed this year.

DAY CARE FIRE

Defense to seek leniency in day care fire

HOUSTON (AP) It's defense attorneys' turn to offer evidence in support of leniency for a Texas woman convicted of murder in a fire at her home day care that killed four children.

Attorneys for Jessica Tata open their case Friday in the punishment phase of her trial. She could be sentenced to up to life in prison for the death of 16-month-old Elias Castillo.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday. They said the February 2011 fire started after Tata left children alone with a pan of oil on a hot stove while she went shopping. Along with the four children who died, three were injured.

Tata's attorneys say she never intended to hurt the children, who ranged in age from 16 months to 3 years old, and that she tried to save them.

SUPERSTORM-UTILITY RESPONSE

Power outage time after Sandy not extraordinary

NEW YORK (AP) As the number of nights without power stretched on for thousands left in the dark after Superstorm Sandy, patience understandably turned to anger and outrage.

But an Associated Press analysis of outage times from other big hurricanes and tropical storms suggests that, on the whole, the response to Sandy by utility companies, especially in hardest-hit New York and New Jersey, was typical or even a little faster than elsewhere after other huge storms.

Energy Department records show that New York utilities restored power to at least 95 percent of customers 13 days after the peak number of outages was reported. New Jersey reached that same level in 11 days and West Virginia in 10 days. Power restorations above 95 percent took longer for Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Ike.

ABANDONED BOY-REUNION

Abandoned boy meets Texas fireman who saved him

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) When a Texas fourth-grader was talking with his classmates about where they dreamed of going, his answer wasn't an amusement park or sporting event. It was "his" fire station.

Koregan Quintanilla was abandoned at an Arlington fire station when he was just a few hours old in 2002. Under Texas' Baby Moses law, a parent can leave an unharmed infant up to 60 days old at a fire station or hospital with no questions asked.

On Thursday night, Koregan got his wish for his 10th birthday. He met Arlington firefighter Wesley Keck, who found him a decade ago, and rode on a fire truck.

Koregan's mother, Rebecca Quintanilla, says Koregan always has known he's adopted and has watched TV news footage from when he was found at the station.

TEXAS-HEALTH CARE LAW

Perry officially rejects Texas insurance exchange

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Texas Gov. Rick Perry has officially notified the federal government that the state will not set up an exchange to help people buy health insurance.

Perry sent a letter to Health and Human Services Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday that Washington will have to set up the exchange instead.

The health insurance exchanges are required under the Affordable Care Act. They give people without insurance an online market place to buy health insurance that suits them. People with low incomes and special needs will get subsidized insurance when the exchanges begin operating in October 2013.

The Obama Administration gave states the option of setting up their own exchanges, partnering with the federal government or letting Washington do it.

Perry calls the health care law federal overreach.

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