Texas

The Texas state court system is signaling that it will no longer enforce a federal order aimed at stopping evictions during the coronavirus pandemic. That could clear the way for landlords to push ahead with tens of thousands of eviction cases that have been on hold.

The timing could be particularly painful for many families, coming after Congress has approved billions of dollars to help people pay the rent they owe to avoid eviction but before the vast majority of renters have been able to receive any of that money.

Last year, when Isabel Longoria had to figure out how to safely hold an election during a pandemic, she saw the daunting task as an opportunity to do things differently.

"I just started dreaming," says Longoria, the elections administrator for Harris County in Texas. "And I just said, 'OK, let's start from the beginning — not with what's possible first — but what do voters want, and what's going to make it safer?' "

A man was arrested Wednesday afternoon near the Naval Observatory and charged with several counts related to weapons and ammunition, according the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department. The Naval Observatory is the vice presidential residence, though Vice President Harris and her family do not live at the estate yet.

Paul Murray, 31, of San Antonio was first detained by the U.S. Secret Service based on an intelligence bulletin originating from Texas. He was later formally arrested by Washington police. A rifle and ammunition were recovered from his vehicle.

In January, Dallas resident Shannon Marrs paid $257 for electricity. But after Texas suffered the worst winter storm in years, Marrs' February electricity bill totaled more than $10,000.

A Dallas police officer has been arrested on charges that he ordered an acquaintance to kill two people in 2017.

Officer Bryan Riser, 36, was charged with capital murder in the deaths of a 61-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman, Dallas Police Chief Eddie García said at a Thursday media briefing.

The body of Liza Saenz, which had multiple gunshot wounds, was found on March 1o, 2017, in an area river. The family of the second victim, Albert Douglas, reported him missing the previous month. His remains were never found, the police chief said.

The recently ousted CEO of the entity that maintains and operates much of Texas's electricity grid has told its board of directors he will not accept an $800,000 severance.

Bill Magness was fired, officially without cause, Wednesday. He had been president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, but was removed following last month's winter storm that resulted in days-long blackouts for more than 4 million Texas residents.

Updated at 8:38 p.m. ET

President Biden said on Wednesday that states like Texas and Mississippi are making a big mistake by ending mandates to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a time when the nation is making a push to boost vaccinations.

"The last thing — the last thing — we need is the Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything's fine, take off your mask. Forget it. It still matters," Biden told reporters as he met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Oval Office.

Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he is lifting the state's mask mandate and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100%. Abbott, a Republican, said the mandates are no longer needed due to advancements of vaccines and therapeutics to protect against COVID-19.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing Griddy, saying the electricity provider passed along massive increases during winter storms, leaving some customers to face up to $5,000 in power bills. Paxton's lawsuit says Griddy deceived customers when it promised low "wholesale" energy prices.

The state says it received more than 400 complaints about Griddy in less than two weeks.

The largest power cooperative in Texas filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, citing a massive bill from the state's electricity grid operator following last month's winter storm that left millions of residents without power for days.

Brazos Electric Power Cooperative filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, according to court documents reviewed by NPR.

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