TEXAS

'Affluenza' teen fugitive in custody

A teen fugitive who's known for using an "affluenza" defense and his mother attempted to disguise themselves and disappear among the American tourists thronging a Mexican resort city for the holidays, but are now in custody and will be returned to the United States, Texas authorities said Tuesday.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said 18-year-old Ethan Couch - who was on juvenile probation after killing four people in a drunken-driving wreck - and his mother had prepared to be gone a while, even dyeing Couch's blond hair black, before being detained Monday in the Pacific Coast city of Puerto Vallarta.

"They had planned to disappear. They even had something that was almost akin to a going-away party before leaving town," Anderson said.

During the sentencing phase of Couch's trial, a defense expert argued that his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility - a condition the expert termed "affluenza." - AP
MICHIGAN

Top environmental regulator resigns

Michigan's top environmental regulator resigned Tuesday after elevated levels of lead were found in Flint children during a drinking water crisis that a task force blamed primarily on his agency.

Gov. Rick Snyder accepted the resignation of Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and apologized for what occurred in Flint, which switched its drinking water supply in a cost-cutting move while under state financial management. Communications director Brad Wurfel also resigned.

Wyant quit the same day a task force appointed by the Republican governor reported that the department was primarily responsible for the fiasco because it did not require Flint to keep corrosive water from leaching lead from service pipes into residents' homes and belittled concerns from the public. - AP
CALIFORNIA

Twitter confronts abusive behavior

San Francisco-based Twitter has revised its rules of conduct to emphasize that it prohibits violent threats and abusive behavior by users, promising a tough stance at a time when critics are calling for the online service to adopt a harder line against extremists.

While the new policy unveiled Tuesday doesn't substantively change what's allowed, it may help Twitter answer criticism from politicians and others who say militant extremists are using the service and other social networks to recruit members and promote their violent agendas.

One advocate said the real test will be how Twitter enforces the rules. "The new rules are definitely an improvement," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Digital Terrorism and Hate Project at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "But the question is: Will they be accompanied by a more proactive attitude toward making sure repeat offenders are identified and permanently removed?" - AP