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Local and National News Headlines 1/20

WASHINGTON (AP) – A senior U.S. defense official says all six reported killed in the crash of a U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan were U.S. Marines. The helicopter crashed Thursday in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand.The defense official who said all six were Marines spoke on condition of anonymity because the U.S. command in Afghanistan had not yet publicly released details, including the nationalities of the dead. The official says there is no indication that the helicopter was hit by enemy fire.

Etta James Honored On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Vince Bucci,getty images

Legendary Singer Dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Etta James’ manager says the singer has died in Southern California at age 83. Lupe De Leon tells The Associated Press the singer died early Friday at Riverside Community Hospital. De Leon says the cause of death is complications of leukemia. James enduring hits include “At Last” and “Tell Mama.”

Unemployment Rate Drops

TYLER - There were less people looking for jobs last month compared to the previous month. Unemployment rates for Tyler and Longview decreased in December. The jobless rate in Tyler decreased to 7.3 in December compared to 8.1 percent  in November, and the Longview jobless rate dropped to 5.9 percent last month compared to 6.3 percent in November  of last year. The Texas unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in December, the lowest level in two and half years. The Texas Workforce Commission released the figures today.

Court throws out judge-drawn Texas electoral maps

WASHINGTON (AP) — The fate of the scheduled April primaries in Texas is up in the air. The Supreme Court today threw out electoral maps drawn by federal judges in Texas that favored minorities. The justices ordered the judges to come up with new plans. But they didn’t say the state has to use the maps created by the Republican-dominated state Legislature.

Barbara Bass
City of Tyler

Tyler Mayor seeks re-election

TYLER - Barbara Bass announced today her plan to seek re-election as mayor of Tyler Pointing to progress made in implementing goals set by the community in Tyler 21 strategic plan, Mayor Bass cited her desire to keep Tyler’s positive momentum going, listing some of the successes and projects of which she is most proud including keeping Tyler financially sound in tough economic times, maintaining low property rates compared to other cities with more than 15,000 residents, and The Industry Growth Initiative that focuses on bringing new jobs to key industries, notably healthcare, education and oil and gas. Mayor Bass was first elected in May 2008.

Robert E. Lee Student Dies in Car Accident

TYLER – A one vehicle accident has claimed the life of a Smith County teen and left two other people hospitalized in fair condition. The Texas Department of Public Safety says the driver of the car, 17-year-old Brytnie Stithem, of Flint, lost control of her car and struck a tree on County Road 1178. Both passengers, 24-year-old Brandon Page and 17-year-old Chasi Wilkerson, both of Flint, were injured in the crash. Stithem was a student at Robert E. Lee High school in Tyler

Smith County Receives Flawless Inspection

TYLER - Smith County was awarded a certificate of compliance for receiving high marks in cleanliness and safety during their annual inspection by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards on January 18, 2012. Texas Commission on Jail Standards Inspector Robert Green said Smith County passed its surprise inspection without any deficiencies in the more than 650 compliance areas checked, including cell cleanliness, secure lock systems, proper medical screening of prisoners, proper staff training, adequate shower and toilet facilities and sanitary food preparation within the jail system. “We are very proud to receive a report completely absent of deficiencies. I think it shows all of our staff members are working together to maintain a high standard of cleanliness, health, safety and organization,” Chief Deputy Bobby Garmon said.

Press Release: Smith County

Man Who Threatened IRS Gets Probation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man charged with threatening to blow up federal offices in Texas has reached a plea agreement. Prosecutors say Thomas John Sitzler threatened by phone to blow up an Internal Revenue Service building in Texas. Prosecutors plan to recommend Sitzler get a year’s probation and a $3,000 fine.

Newt Gingrich Denies Allegations

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is angrily denying that he asked his second wife for an “open marriage.” In Thursday night’s debate in South Carolina, Gingrich said, “Let me be quite clear. The story is false.” Marianne Gingrich tells ABC News that when she discovered Gingrich was having an affair with the woman who’s his current wife, he asked Marianne to share him.

Iran Bans Selling Barbie Dolls

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — There is a ban on the selling of Barbie dolls in Iran. An Iranian news agency is reporting police have closed down dozens of toy shops for selling Barbie dolls in an effort to fight Western cultural influence. The Friday report by semiofficial Mehr news agency quotes an unnamed police official as saying police also confiscated Barbie dolls from toy shops in Tehran in a “new phase” of its crackdown. A ban on sale of Barbie dolls, designed to look like young Western women, was imposed in the mid-1990s.

Gadhafi Was Hiding Chemical Weapons

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The organization that oversees a global ban on chemical weapons says it appears the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi had some he never mentioned. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says inspectors who visited Libya found sulfur mustard and artillery shells designed for “chemical munitions.”

Sex, Heart Attacks Not Linked

CHICAGO (AP) — It’s not always talked about, but a leading doctors group says physicians need to speak up about the fitness of heart attack survivors to have sex. In its first science-based recommendations, the American Heart Association says having sex only slightly raises the chance for a heart attack. There’s no evidence heart patients have more sex-related heart attacks than healthy people.

Johnson & Johnson, Texas Settle Lawsuit

AUSTIN (AP) — Johnson & Johnson and the state of Texas have settled a lawsuit in which the state was seeking up to $1 billion from the company. Texas has accused it of plundering the state Medicaid program by overstating the safety of an anti-psychotic drug and improperly influencing officials and doctors to push it. A Johnson & Johnson subsidiary says it will pay Texas $158 million.

Gas Goes Up Slightly

HOUSTON (AP) — Gasoline prices in Texas are up a penny this week. The auto club says the average price is $3.23 per gallon. AAA Texas says Dallas and Fort Worth have the most expensive gasoline and it’s cheapest in El Paso.

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