5 things to know: Tuesday

5 things to know: Tuesday

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Package bombs in Texas capital likely tied to earlier blast

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Two package bomb blasts a few miles apart killed a teenager and wounded two women in Austin on Monday, less than two weeks after a similar attack left a man dead in another part of the Texas capital.

The three explosions occurred in different parts of east Austin, which is east of Interstate 35, the highway that divides the city. Monday's first blast happened at a home in Springdale Hills, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the home where the March 2 package bomb killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House. House's death was initially investigated as suspicious but is now viewed as a homicide.

Monday's second explosion occurred around the Montopolis neighborhood, about 5 miles south of the day's first blast.

The first of Monday's attacks killed a 17-year-old boy and wounded a 40-year-old woman, both of them black. As Police Chief Brian Manley held a news conference to discuss that attack, authorities were called to the scene of another explosion that injured a 75-year-old Hispanic woman. She was taken to a hospital with potentially life-threatening wounds.

Authorities suspect that both of Monday's explosions were linked to a March 2 attack that killed a 39-year-old black man. All three blasts happened as the packages were opened, and officials urged the public to call police if they receive any unexpected packages.

Investigators said the bombings are probably connected, and they are looking into whether race was a factor because all of the victims were minorities.

In all three cases, he said, the packages did not appear to have gone through the U.S. Postal Service or private carriers like UPS. They were left on doorsteps without a knock or ringing of doorbells.The police chief said they were an "average-size letter box" and "not particularly large."

The victims in Monday's blasts were not immediately identified.

Prairie dogs gassed out of holes

LUBBOCK, Texas - Prairie dogs, once an integral part of the High Plains ecosystem, are seen by many as a nuisance nowadays. So much so, that the city elects to gas them out of their holes.

Staffers say that practice is essential to keep the peace in the parks.

"Prairie dog control is a necessary part of park management," Parks & Rec. Director Bridget Faulkenberry said. "The holes are dangerous to the people that use the park. They could step in one and break a bone. They carry disease, they chew our irrigation and electric lines. At Mackenzie, they're really bad. We have athletic fields here, so it's very important that we control them on those fields."

An online petition asks the city to stop gassing the prairie dogs with carbon monoxide, but Faulkenberry said this method is not new and the city has had to control the population for decades.

Prairie dog town has been around since about the 1930's and was the first protected colony of its kind. The city doesn't touch the dogs that are currently living here, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a safe haven, according to TTU Natural Resources Management Chairman Dr. Mark Wallace.

He believes the dogs are fine in the environment as long as they aren't conflicting with public land use. He said prairie dogs won't go extinct from the city's gassing mandate.

If you plan on building on private property, it's advised to hire pest control to treat the dogs before you break ground on their habitat.

Colorectal screening hopes to reduce colon cancer

LUBBOCK, Texas - According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer ranks number three in cancer related deaths affecting both men and women and like every other type of cancer early detection and treatment is key. Covenant Health is offering free colonoscopies for patients who qualify. 

"Covenant hospital with a combination of a physician, including gastroenterologists, anesthesiologists, pathologist, and surgeons are providing this service for free," said Dr. Elias Ghandour, Gastroenterologist at Covenant Health. "Any person of the age fifty or above who has no insurance would be qualified for it." 

Colorectal screening tests can detect tiny polyps which are abnormal growths in both the rectum and colon. 

"The best way to prevent colon cancer is screening, " said Ghandour. "The importance of a screening colonoscopy is that we look for polyps and when we find those polyps we remove them and that's how you prevent cancer." 

Criteria for qualifying patients include: being at least 50 years of age or have a family history of colon cancer, have not previously had a colonoscopy, and must qualify for financial assistance. All materials, including anesthesia and colon prep kits, will be provided. The colonoscopy clinic will be on Saturday, March 24th at the Covenant Endoscopy Center. 

Meet Justice, LPD's new therapy dog

LUBBOCK, Texas - There is a new addition to the Lubbock Police Department and she is fluffy. LPD announced a few weeks ago, the newest teammate would be a canine. 

Justice is a 13-week-old Bernedoodle, a mix breed of purebred Bernese mountain dog and a purebred Poodle. Unlike other canines at the station, Justice will provide therapy, comfort, and community engagement. 

Sergeant Steve Bergen is a her handler and said his daughter brought up the idea to him. Bergen said she comes from a breeder in Arkansas, specializing in puppy socialization. 

She will go through training for about a year, with the help of Texas Tech Professor Sasha Protopopova.

The goal is for Justice to reach as many people as possible.

"She can be utilized in schools, hospitals, not just in the community but within my own department, our own cohorts, kinda the unforgotten people are the people in dispatch," Bergen said.

Justice was purchased from funds from a donation by the rock band 3 Doors Down and it's non-profit, "The Better Life Foundation", which focuses on providing for children and young adults.

House panel's initial report says no collusion with Russia
WASHINGTON (AP) - A draft report from the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee concludes there was no collusion or coordination between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia.
Texas congressman Mike Conaway says the committee has finished interviewing witnesses and will share the report with Democrats on Tuesday.
In a preview of the report, Conaway said Monday the investigation found what might be considered some bad judgment, inappropriate meetings and inappropriate judgment in taking meetings. But he said there was no evidence found to support the charge of collusion.
Trump used all-capital letters to tweet his approval of the report's conclusion. Democrats are expected to issue a separate report with far different conclusions.
The top Democrat on the intelligence panel, Adam Schiff of California, suggested that by wrapping up the probe Republicans were protecting Trump.

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