5 things to know: Wednesday - FOX34 Lubbock

5 things to know: Wednesday

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Commercial vacancy rate increases, giving Lubbock new eyesores

LUBBOCK, Texas - Driving around town, it is noticeable. Lubbock has it's fair share of abandoned or vacant buildings. They sit there empty, often in various stages of decay, with growing weeds and boarded windows. They are an eyesore and a black eye for the city. 

Stuart Walker, the city's code administration director said buildings can sit there indefinitely as long as it stays secured.

"An open or accessible building is an imminent threat to health and safety," Walker said. "We don't want vagrants, children, or infectors of disease getting into the building and using it as habitat, so we try to get those sealed up, as quickly as possible." 

John Osborne, CEO of the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance said empty buildings can affect our economy.

"Everyone wants our city to look the nicest and put the best foot forward," Osborne said. "Especially when you're trying to attract more people to come to our community whether they want to live here or if they want to come and visit here. It could be because it's not a good place for the business to be operating, not profitable or they're not able to fund the workers that they need, make the sales that they need to. Sometimes it's actually though a positive thing, from the stand point of maybe the buildings too small or businesses keep growing too much so they're having to vacate to find a bigger property." 

For the retail market, real estate research firm, "Co-Star" reported Lubbock's vacancy increased from 4.5 percent in the beginning of 2017 to 4.8 percent by the end. Osborne said do not be alarmed. 

"We actually receive about 6 million visitors a year and if you took out those visitors, we only have a population base of just over 300,000 in our county," Osborne said. 

That has increased by 30 percent since 2009.

Texas Tech's new micro-gin helping improve cotton industry

LUBBOCK, Texas - The international demand for American fiber is on the rise. Nearly 80% of U.S cotton is exported and a majority of that comes from West Texas.

In order to keep up, the industry is focusing on efficiency rather than raw production. Texas Tech's Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute is keeping with the times as it incorporates a one-of-a-kind transparent-sided micro-gin. 

"We need to be more detailed in the analysis of cotton," said Eric Hequet, chair of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. "We have to work very closely with the breeders in order to build this cotton of the future that will feed the industry of the future." 

The one thing that makes this gin stand out is that it gives students and researchers the opportunity to see first hand the whole entire process. This micro gin is first and foremost an educational research tool. 

"We will be able to better understand textile processing," said Hequet, "and the fibers that are breaking during processing." 

Hequet said his team of researchers and students are also looking at innovative ways to use the fiber. The micro-gin can process more than a ton of raw cotton an hour. It's fully automated and controlled by the same software used in modern full-sized gins.

UPDATED: Driver has life-threatening injuries after Clovis Rd. crash

LUBBOCK, Texas - A driver is fighting life-threatening injuries after a head-on crash in north Lubbock.

LPD's accident investigators say the victim's vehicle was headed east on Clovis Road near Avenue U when it crossed into west-bound traffic and slammed into a car. Then a third vehicle was hit.

The driver of the west-bound vehicle has serious injuries. She's expected to make it. 

The driver of the third vehicle was not hurt. Names have not been released. 

President Trump's pick for CIA fights to secure her position

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Trump's pick to lead the CIA - Gina Haspel - will be back on Capitol Hill today, pushing to secure her spot leading the agency.

The fight to put Gina Haspel in control of the CIA has been a controversial one among lawmakers.

Haspel met with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden yesterday, one of several democrats who will determine her fate.

He has been pushing the CIA to declassify documents about her role in the agency's enhanced interrogation program - developed after 9-11.

"If this is allowed to go forward, as what I have called a secret confirmation process, it sure as heck won't be the last one," Wyden said.

If Haspel passes votes from a panel and the full Senate, she would be the CIA's first female director, but her confirmation vote is seen as a toss-up, because of wavering support from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Trump declares US leaving 'horrible' Iran nuclear accord

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark nuclear accord with Iran on Tuesday, abruptly restoring harsh sanctions in the most consequential foreign policy action of his presidency. He declared he was making the world safer, but he also deepened his isolation on the world stage and revived doubts about American credibility.

The 2015 agreement, which was negotiated by the Obama administration and included Germany, France and Britain, had lifted most U.S. and international economic sanctions against Iran. In exchange, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program, making it impossible to produce a bomb and establishing rigorous inspections.

But Trump, a severe critic of the deal dating back to his presidential campaign, said in a televised address from the White House that it was "defective at its core."

U.S. allies in Europe had tried to keep him in and lamented his move to abandon it. 

The sanctions seek to punish Iran for its nuclear program by limiting its ability to sell oil or do business overseas, affecting a wide range of Iranian economic sectors and individuals.

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