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In brief: Barbara Bush in Houston hospital

Houston – Former first lady Barbara Bush has been hospitalized in Houston with a respiratory-related issue, her husband’s office said Tuesday night. The statement from the office of former President George H.W. Bush said Mrs. Bush was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Monday.

“She is in great spirits, has already received visits from her husband and family, and is receiving fantastic care,” the brief statement said.

Just last week, Barbara Bush, 88, and her husband, the 41st president, honored a Houston businessman and philanthropist with a Points of Light Award, a volunteer service award started by the former president. The Bushes’ home is in Houston.

Evacuation order lifted in N.D. town

Casselton, N.D. – After health experts determined that air quality was safe within city limits, officials in Casselton, N.D., on Tuesday afternoon lifted a voluntary evacuation order that had been issued after a collision involving a train carrying crude oil released clouds of noxious billowing smoke.

The Cass County sheriff’s office estimated that, as of Tuesday morning, 65 percent of Casselton’s 2,432 residents had evacuated.

Steven Forsberg, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. railroad, said the accident occurred when a train hauling grain derailed on a track parallel to an eastbound train carrying crude oil. Cars from the two trains collided, setting off explosions and fires.

National Transportation Safety Board officials will remain on site to continue their investigation. Burlington Northern Santa Fe crews will also stay, “working to clear wreckage and extinguish any smoldering fires,” the sheriff’s office said.

Judge strikes down welfare drug test

Orlando, Fla. – A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a Florida law requiring applicants for welfare benefits to undergo mandatory drug testing, ruling it was unconstitutional and shouldn’t be enforced.

U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven’s 30-page order made permanent an earlier, temporary ban on the law by the judge.

Gov. Rick Scott had backed the drug testing of prospective welfare recipients, arguing it helped protect taxpayers and families. He said in a statement Tuesday that his administration would appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Opponents of the law had argued it was an unconstitutional search and seizure. The judge agreed, writing that there was no pervasive drug problem among applicants for the welfare program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The judge said she could find “no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”


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