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‘Affluenza’ mom Tonya Couch will have to wear ankle monitor — if she makes bail

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The mother of the Texas teenager ridiculed for his “affluenza” defense in the killing of four people while he was driving drunk, did not enter a plea at her arraignment in a Fort Worth court on Friday on a charge of helping her son flee to Mexico after he was suspected of violating probation.

Tonya Couch, 48, could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charge, a third-degree felony, of aiding her son, Ethan, 18, after he was suspected of violating a deal that kept him out of prison.

The court on Monday is expected to consider a motion by her lawyers to reduce the $1 million bond that she is being held on. Her lawyers want $15,000.

The judge said if she is released on bond, she would be required to surrender her passport and wear a monitor on her ankle.

Couch, wearing a yellow jail jump suit, told the court she did not have a passport because it was not returned to her when she was deported from Mexico.

Couch is being held at a maximum security unit of the Tarrant County jail. She spent a restless night and complained about her accommodations, County Sheriff Dee Anderson told reporters at the court.

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“This is a jail, not a resort,” he said he told her.

Couch’s lawyers accused the sheriff of using the case to thrust himself into the spotlight as he seeks re-election, adding his escorting to jail of a suspect charged with a third-degree as excessive.

She arrived in Texas on Thursday from Los Angeles, where she had been held since being deported from Mexico at the end of December.

During Ethan Couch’s trial for the 2013 accident, a psychologist testified that the teen, then 16, suffered from “affluenza,” meaning he had lost the ability to recognize right from wrong after being spoiled by his wealthy family. The diagnosis, which is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, was widely ridiculed.

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Ethan Couch was sentenced in Tarrant County to 10 years of drink- and drug-free probation, which critics saw as leniency because of his family’s wealth.

Tonya Couch and her son left Texas after a video surfaced on social media in early December showing Ethan at an alcohol-fueled party.

Ethan Couch is in a Mexican immigration detention facility while he fights deportation, which could take months.

(Reporting by Marice Richter; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Lisa Shumaker)

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Critics lament as 126 House Democrats join forces with GOP to hand Trump ‘terrifying’ mass domestic spying powers

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Privacy advocates and civil liberties defenders are expressing outrage after the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night voted down a bipartisan amendment designed to end, as one group put it, the U.S. government's "most egregious mass surveillance practices" first revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In a final vote of 253-175, it was 126 Democrats who joined with 127 Republicans to vote against an amendment introduced by Rep Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) that would have closed loopholes in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that critics charge has allowed the NSA to abuse warrantless surveillance capabilities and target the emails, text messages, and internet activity of U.S. citizens and residents. See the full roll call here.

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Pilots, including Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, tell US Congress more training needed on 737 MAX

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US pilots called Wednesday for enhanced pilot training on the Boeing 737 MAX before the aircraft is returned to service after being grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes.

The pilots -- including Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, who famously landed a damaged plane on the Hudson River in New York in 2009 -- pushed back against the aviation giant's assurances that pilots will only need to review the 737 MAX modifications in a computer program.

Daniel Carey, president of the Allied Pilots Association, told a congressional panel he was encouraged by changes Boeing made to a flight system seen as a factor in both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes that killed 346 people.

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Shelling on American interests threaten Iraq’s fine line between Iran, US

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A nearly week-long barrage of anonymous shelling attacks on American interests across Iraq are intended to signal Iran's long reach and "embarrass" Baghdad amid spiralling US-Iran tensions, observers say.

The incidents were not claimed but largely originated from areas where Shiite-dominated armed groups loyal to Tehran and deeply opposed to Washington have free reign.

Starting Friday, mortars and rockets have rained down on the Al-Balad and Taji bases, the Baghdad military airport, and a military command centre in northern Mosul -- all sites where US troops and army equipment are present.

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