SpaceX aims for Starship launch before spring

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, in a Dec. 27 Twitter post, expressed his hope that the Starship prototype under construction at the company’s Boca Chica Beach launch and test complex will fly in two or three months. SpaceX is moving quickly on construction of the vehicle, formerly known as Starship Mk3 and lately rechristened Starship V1.0, SN1, since the first full-size prototype (Mk1) was damaged during a pressurization test on Nov. 20. The plan had been to launch the non-orbital Mk1 to 65,000 feet, though Musk said the company decided even before the Nov. 20 incident that Mk1 would not fly. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Sushi, steak and booze: McAllen taxpayers funded Enrique Iglesias’ lavish requests

Once Enrique Iglesias finished his performance at McAllen High School’s football stadium in 2015, a smattering of sushi and sashimi waited backstage. There were 48 beers on ice — Heineken and Corona; and there were 10 pizzas — two vegetarian, four meat and four cheese. That was only after the show. Beforehand, Iglesias was served two dinner plates, including a steak cooked medium. Iglesias also requested that his dressing room was stocked with two washed king-sized white sheets, which were “EXTREMELY IMPORTANT;” 36 500 mL bottles of room temperature spring water — “Fiji only;” one bottle of aloe juice with pulp, and if city officials didn’t know what that was, they were instructed to “ask for clarification;” one bottle of aloe juice without pulp; and three bottles of vodka, including one of the brand Ketel One — “NO SUBSTITUTES.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Hotelier sticks with lawyer after government alleges conflict

“Give him a chance.” Thus implored McAllen hotelier Sunil Wadhwani of U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa during a status conference held in federal court Friday afternoon. Wadhwani was speaking of Michael Wynne, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney turned defense attorney who has been representing him in a federal bribery case since Wadhwani first became aware of the FBI’s investigation into his Weslaco Motel 6 project last year. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Man gets 25 years for child sex assault

A Hidalgo County man was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of a child, according to a county news release. Nathaniel Garza, 27, was arrested on Jan. 23, 2019, by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. The victim was reportedly 13-years-old at the time of the assault. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Reward increased in search for missing person

The family of Ramiro “Kimberly” Avila is hoping that an increase in the reward seeking information on Avila will encourage anyone who knows what happened to him will come forward. The reward is now at $10,000, with $5,000 coming from the Brownsville Police Department and its Crime Stoppers program and $5,000 from the Valley Aids Council. Avila, a transgender woman, disappeared from the downtown area around 2:30 a.m. on May, 13, 2017. Avila’s family and police have been searching for Avila since the disappearance but have been unable to locate him. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Expert testifies for defense in doctor’s trial

The defense for Dr. Jorge Zamora Quezada, the rheumatologist charged with healthcare fraud, began their case Tuesday with an expert witness who testified about the appropriateness of the doctor’s diagnoses. Bruce Freundlich, a rheumatologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, reviewed the records of Zamora Quezada’s patients from their visits with him as well as records from their visits with other doctors. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

North American trade pact passes first Senate hurdle

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the new North American Free Trade Agreement, including a yes vote from U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, which will send the trade pact to the floor of the Senate for a full vote in the coming weeks. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was voted out of the finance committee by a vote of 25 to 3. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Former teacher accused of inappropriate relationship with student chastised for missing last court hearing

A woman accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student apologized to the court for missing her last scheduled court appearance. Marisela Mendoza Winn apologized after the court asked her why she had failed to appear for her Dec. 18 pretrial hearing, stating a misunderstanding between herself and her attorney led her to believe she did not have a hearing on that date. The state in response underscored how the incident on Dec. 18, wasn’t the first time Winn had missed a scheduled hearing. In fact, the prosecutor stated Winn missed the hearing before the December hearing as well. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Docs: Woman shoots Pharr man in stomach after violent domestic assault

A woman shot a 37-year-old man in the stomach on New Year's Day after police say the man woke up after falling asleep in his car and assaulted her. A probable cause affidavit for the arrest of Pharr resident Jessie Lee Espinoza on charges of aggravated assault date/family with a weapon, unlawful restraint and unlawful possession of a firearm provides new information into what the Texas Department of Public Safety, which assisted Pharr police at the crime scene, said was a mobile disturbance on Sugar Road and FM 495. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Iran strikes back at US with missile attack at bases in Iraq

Iran struck back at the United States for the killing of a top Iranian general early Wednesday, firing a series of surface-to-surface missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops and warning the United States and its allies in the region not to retaliate. U.S. officials confirmed the strikes, though Iran only initially acknowledged targeting one base. There was no immediate word on injuries. Iranian state TV said the attack was in revenge for the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose funeral procession Tuesday in his hometown of Kerman prompted angry calls to avenge his death, which drastically raised tensions in the Middle East. Read the full story at themonitor.com.