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In brief: Florida Legislature draws new congressional maps

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature on Monday swiftly approved new maps that will alter several of the state’s congressional districts after a judge ruled the current districts were illegally drawn to benefit the GOP.

The changes would alter seven of the state’s 27 congressional districts, but it’s not certain if the revised map will change the makeup of Florida’s congressional delegation. Republicans currently hold a 17-10 edge.

The vote was largely along partisan lines as Democrats complained that the new map still doesn’t reflect that Florida is a battleground state with a divided electorate. The Senate passed the measure 25-12 with the House following by a 71-38 vote.

“What we’ve done is really just window dressing,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth.

Legislators held a three-day special session to fix the congressional map after Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled that two districts were drawn illegally.

Texas family halts fundraising for girl who survived shooting

Houston – The extended family of a Houston-area girl who was the lone survivor of a shooting that left her parents and four siblings dead asked Monday that a fundraising effort for her be halted, after it surpassed $400,000.

Cassidy Stay, 15, survived July 9 by playing dead as her parents and four younger siblings – Bryan, 13, Emily, 9, Rebecca, 6, and Zach, 4 – were gunned down. Although wounded herself, she called police and identified the gunman as her aunt’s ex-husband, Ronald Lee Haskell.

Cassidy’s relatives posted a statement on the account that was set up by a family acquaintance and a Harris County constable who was among the first officers to reach the slaying scene after the teenager’s 911 call.

“We have reached an amazing milestone on this fundraising site and wish to close it as we acknowledge our infinite appreciation to all who have contributed,” the statement said.

Authorities said the family members were shot when they refused to divulge the whereabouts of Haskell’s ex-wife. Haskell faces multiple capital murder charges for the deaths of Stephen Stay, 39, his wife, Katie Lyon Stay, 34, and their children. Haskell had been divorced from Katie Stay’s sister and records showed he had a history of domestic violence.


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N. Korea, setting stage for talks, halts nuclear, ICBM tests

UPDATED: 10:03 p.m.

North Korea said Saturday it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site ahead of a new round of negotiations with South Korea and the United States. There was no clear indication in the North’s announcement if it would be willing to deal away its arsenal.