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Hometown: Texas
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Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 02:57 AM
Number of posts: 71,596

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Florida's arguments rejected in 'water war' over Apalachicola River, oyster industry

For years, Florida has blamed Georgia’s water use for causing damage to the economically vital oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay.

But a special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed this week, dealing a major blow to Florida in its legal fight to force Georgia to share more water in a river system that links the two states.

The special master, Senior U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Paul J. Kelly, issued an 81-page report this week that said mismanagement by Florida contributed to the oyster industry’s collapse and that Florida has not adequately shown that Georgia’s water use caused problems in the Franklin County bay and the Apalachicola River.

“Georgia does not contest that the oyster fishery suffered significant harm; rather, it argues that the collapse resulted from Florida’s mismanagement, and insofar as low flows caused the collapse, those low flows were predominantly caused by drought, not Georgia’s consumptive use,” Kelly wrote.

Read more: https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2019/12/12/floridas-arguments-rejected-water-war-over-apalachicola-river/4414534002/

Family of driver killed by forklift sues contractors and unlicensed driver for $25 million

A negligence lawsuit claims that the most basic of background checks could have saved the life of a Canadian retiree who died a grisly death when a forklift driven by an undocumented and unlicensed construction worker tore into his convertible and killed him.

James Zakos’ head injuries likely were not survivable, family lawyers said, but the crash definitely was preventable.

On the hook in the lawsuit are the contractor and three subcontractors involved in Fort Lauderdale’s multimillion-dollar Las Olas Beach improvement project, as well as Ulises Mondragon, 30, who drove the forklift.

“There’s going to be a lot of finger-pointing among all of the defendants,” said Blake Dolman, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer representing Zakos’ sister, Margaret, and adult children, Alexandra, 30, and Thomas, 28.

Read more: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fort-lauderdale/fl-ne-forklift-fatality-negligence-lawsuit-20191213-mzti4u3dmbfp3fprp6xc3kgfby-story.html
(South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

University of Florida College of Pharmacy reveals breakthrough cancer drug

Researchers from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy say they have discovered a safer and more effective anticancer drug. The new treatment would target leukemia, lymphoma, and breast and lung cancers.

The drug, known currently as DT2216, affects a protein (called B-cell lymphoma-extra large), which grows malignant cells and strengthens their resistance to treatment.

There's already an inhibitor drug, but it causes a drop in blood platelets, raising the risk of bleeding. This led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to deny approval for the earlier drug. Since then, scientists have been seeking an alternative.

According to a release on UF's website, the new drug works better against a variety of tumor cells aided by the BCL-XL protein, and is also less toxic to blood platelets. University researchers developed the new BCL-XL-targeting anticancer drug using a technology that relies on small molecules that suppress and break down cancer-promoting proteins. They published their findings in the journal Nature Medicine on Dec. 2.

Read more: https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2019/12/12/university-of-florida-college-of-pharmacy-reveals-breakthrough-cancer-drug

Orlando lawmakers seek funds to help Pulse shooting survivors

Two House Democrats want the Legislature to set aside nearly $600,000 to keep open the doors of a center that helps survivors of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Rep. Anna Eskamani, both from Orlando, filed the budget request (HB 9095) this week for the Heart of Florida United Way’s resiliency center for Pulse survivors and family members.

The center opened in the aftermath of the June 2016 shooting, which left 49 people dead and 53 wounded. The program was initially funded by a three-year, $8.5 million federal anti-terrorism grant, but the funding will expire this year.

“More than three years after the attack on Pulse nightclub, critical resources that helped stabilize the lives of survivors and families directly impacted have all but dried up,” Smith said in a statement. If funding does not come from “somewhere,” the center will close in 2020, Smith told The News Service of Florida.

Read more: https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2019/12/13/orlando-lawmakers-seek-funds-to-help-pulse-shooting-survivors

Is Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Headed for a Second Term?

Just over a month ago, Houston’s mayoral runoff looked like it was shaping up to be a political battle royale. It features two big political personalities—incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner and bombastic trial attorney Tony Buzbee—and is set in a booming mega-metropolis that has become one of the most politically important cities in the nation.

Turner entered his bid for reelection with a tinge of vulnerability. His close ties with Houston’s powerful business community (city contractors have funneled more than $4 million into his campaign coffers) and appeasement of moderates frustrated the progressive activists who helped elect him back in 2015, when he ran on a platform of bold promises. During his first term, he didn’t push for stronger local labor standards like paid sick leave and a higher minimum wage requirement for city contractors, and slow-walked his affordable-housing agenda. Back in 2016, he declined to back an affordable housing development in the affluent Galleria area after intense backlash from local residents. Still, a serious challenger from the left never materialized. It looked like it would be an easy win in a Democratic stronghold.

Enter Buzbee, an enigmatic millionaire, former chair of the Galveston County Democratic Party, and mega-donor for Donald Trump. He spent $9 million of his own money to mount an insurgent campaign that cast Mayor Turner as an emblem of pay-to-play corruption in city hall and pledged to improve basic municipal services, like trash pickup, drainage ditches, and local infrastructure. He and a handful of other candidates succeeded in keeping Turner from crossing the 50 percent threshold needed to win the November primary outright, with Buzbee pulling in just under 30 percent of the vote. It was the first time in two decades that an incumbent mayor in Houston was forced into a runoff.

But the momentum Buzbee gained from his attempted political coup quickly stalled out. His rambling, incoherent (and possibly inebriated) speech on the night of the primary didn’t help matters. With early voting over and Election Day coming up on Saturday, the race has turned out to be a dud. Perhaps the self-described political brawler wasn’t up for the fight. As Evan Mintz wrote for Texas Monthly: “With the ten other candidates vanquished, Buzbee’s campaign finally has the fight he wanted—a one-on-one with the mayor. To beat Turner, Buzbee would need to fight even harder than he did in the primary … [he] would have to run a Trump-style campaign that trades punch for punch and plays to his strengths as an underdog with nothing to lose. That’s not happening.”

Read more: https://www.texasobserver.org/is-houston-mayor-sylvester-turner-headed-for-a-second-term/

How Katharine Hayhoe Stays Hopeful as the Planet Warms

The Texas Tech professor and lead author on the last three National Climate Assessments wants you to talk about how to live in a warming world.

Katharine Hayhoe loves talking to her Uber drivers—it’s one way she practices finding common ground on climate change with just about anyone. A Texas Tech professor and accomplished atmospheric scientist, Hayhoe was the lead author on the last three National Climate Assessments and served as a reviewer on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But she’s perhaps best known as a science communicator who connects the dots between a warming world and how we live here and now. The science is not that complicated, she says—the fundamentals of how burning oil and gas warms the planet have been well understood since the 1850s. It’s our complicated and contradictory response to this existential threat that keeps her talking to anyone who will have a conversation. The day after accepting the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth award—the organization’s highest environmental honor—Hayhoe spoke with the Observer about how climate change is transforming Texas and what gives her hope.

Texas Observer: You’ve been doing this work for a long time. The science hasn’t changed. Has your message

Katharine Hayhoe: When I first started to communicate, I committed the classic error that just about every scientist does. I thought I had to give people more facts on how we know the climate is changing, how we know it’s humans, and what the future scenarios tell us at the global scale, because that’s what’s important to us scientists. But we really don’t have a problem with the basic science. [Instead] we don’t think it matters to us. We think the impacts are distant, or only matter to future generations. And we don’t think there’s any constructive solutions.

The biggest and most dangerous myth that the largest number of us have bought into is that the solutions are likely worse than the impacts. Because the solutions, we’re told, are harmful and punitive. They will destroy the economy, they will let China run the world, they will take away my truck. My life will be worse, not better. We don’t think there are solutions we can get on board with, and we don’t think the impacts matter to us. My message has completely changed so that those are the two most important things I focus on.

Read more: https://www.texasobserver.org/how-katharine-hayhoe-stays-hopeful-as-the-planet-warms/

Fox Host Brian Kilmeade's New Book About the Alamo Isn't Fair and Balanced

On the eve of the publication of his new book about the Texas Revolution, Brian Kilmeade gave a promotional interview to his Fox News colleague Tucker Carlson. “All they wanted was a shot at success,” he said of the Anglo settlers who in the 1820s and 1830s flocked to what was then northern Mexico. “[T]hey said, ‘I’ll be a part of Mexico as long as you give us freedom and liberty.’” But, as Kilmeade explained to Carlson, when the Mexican government abrogated what the Americans believed were their rights—including unfettered immigration from the United States and easy access to cheap land—the newcomers took up arms and fought for independence. It was a choice that many, at the time and ever since, have likened to the actions of the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord in April 1775. This is an alluring story. It is also largely a myth.

In Sam Houston & the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History (Sentinel/Penguin Random House), Kilmeade, the co-host of the morning show Fox & Friends, reprises the formula that made his three previous books—and this one—runaway bestsellers: pick a Great (white) Man and a pivotal moment in the American past, and show how the two combined to alter the course of U.S. history. Sam Houston thus joins Kilmeade’s pantheon of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson, whose exploits symbolize “What Made America Great,” the name of Kilmeade’s history series on Fox Nation. (Recent episode: “The Walls That Saved America.”)

However familiar this story may be, Kilmeade tells it with élan, offering several vignettes from Houston’s early career to open the book, including the story of a ghastly wound to the groin that he suffered in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend during the War of 1812; his fraught relationship with his mentor, Andrew Jackson; and the time Houston spent among the Cherokee during a self-imposed exile after the dissolution of his brief first marriage. (For their part, the Indians—to whom he remained forever attached—called him “the Big Drunk.”) And once the action shifts to Texas, Kilmeade unspools more than just the story of the Alamo. He leads readers from the battle for San Antonio in 1835 to the massacre by the Mexican Army of more than four hundred captured rebels at Goliad in 1836 and right on through to Houston’s improbable victory at San Jacinto later that spring, which ended the war and effectively secured Texan independence.

Also to his credit, Kilmeade—unlike many popular historians—dips into some of the relevant scholarly literature on the key figures and events of the era. His portraits of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin are sharpened thanks to engagement with the modern biographies by James L. Haley and Gregg Cantrell, respectively. And Kilmeade has clearly grappled with the work of historian James Crisp, who has debunked some of the most cherished myths of the Texas Revolution, especially the circumstances surrounding the death of everyone’s favorite coonskin-cap-wearing Tennessean, Davy Crockett. As such, rather than perishing in action while clubbing a swarm of Mexican soldiers with Ol’ Betsy (a la Fess Parker in Disney’s Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier), Kilmeade’s Crockett—as Crisp has argued—is taken alive with several other rebels and then unceremoniously executed.

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/fox-host-brian-kilmeades-book-alamo-isnt-fair-balanced/

MJ Hegar: "Texans Have Very Sensitive BS Meters"

MJ Hegar is one of eleven Democrats vying for the chance to face incumbent John Cornyn in the 2020 U.S. Senate election. In an October poll of Democrats by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, Hegar led the pack with 12 percent support. But the bigger takeaway from the poll might have been how few voters recognized the names of the candidates: even Hegar had just 20 percent name recognition. For Hegar, that means her campaign has to play offense on two fronts: explaining to voters who she is and why she believes Cornyn is bad for Texas.

“I hate talking about him,” says Hegar, who in 2018 narrowly lost a bid for Texas’s Thirty-First Congressional District to incumbent Republican John Carter. “It depresses me, but also because [Cornyn] has such a low name ID, I feel like I’m elevating him. I feel like more people are listening to me than him and they’re thinking, ‘John who? Oh yeah, that guy.’ He’s been a statewide politician here for nearly four decades and has very low name ID, which should tell you something about how much he’s leading and working.”

Ahead of the 2018 House race, Hegar introduced herself via a campaign ad titled “Doors.” The video focused on her military experience and fight to have the military overturn its ban on women in combat positions. The ad went viral and helped her raise $5.1 million. She wound up losing by just under 3 percent—impressive, considering that Carter had won reelection just two years earlier by a 22-point margin. Earlier this year, the New York Times introduced its readers to “The Woman You Missed While You Were Paying Attention to Beto” and concluded that “M.J. Hegar’s kind of like Ann Richards crossed with Barbara Bush—with a Purple Heart and a Distinguished Flying Cross.”

Indeed, Hegar became a commissioned officer in the Air Force after graduating from the University of Texas and ultimately served three tours in Afghanistan as a combat search-and-rescue and medevac pilot. During a rescue mission in Afghanistan, her helicopter was destroyed by the Taliban. Injuries she sustained from enemy gunfire earned her the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, but also left her unable to continue flying. She says her fight against a Defense Department rule that prohibited women from serving in ground combat positions showed her that Washington was broken and inspired her congressional run.

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/podcast/mj-hegar-senate-2020-election/

John Cornyn Blames Democrats After Being Ripped By Houston Police Chief for Inaction on VAWA

John Cornyn Blames Democrats After Being Ripped By Houston Police Chief for Inaction on Violence Against Women Act

After being called out by Houston's police chief for failing to renew the Violence Against Women Act, Texas Sen. John Cornyn resorted to a tried-and-true defense: "It's the Democrats' fault!"

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo during a Monday news conference tore into Cornyn, along with fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, over their failure to act on gun control legislation. The prior week, he tweeted to the same three lawmakers, demanding that they take action to protect women from domestic violence by renewing the Violence Against Women Act, which expired in February.

Cornyn responded to the December 5 tweet by blaming Democrats' efforts to impeach President Donald Trump.

"Unfortunately, important legislation like this has fallen casualty to impeachment mania," Cornyn wrote. "We will keep trying to pass a bipartisan bill but it takes two (parties) to tango."

Never mind that the Senate is unlikely to conduct its trial of the president until after the holidays and that the Democrat-controlled House passed a version of the Violence Against Women Act in April. The law can't be reinstated until after the Senate passes a version, but the measure has faced opposition from the NRA, which opposes its additional restrictions on gun access.

Read more: https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2019/12/11/john-cornyn-blames-democrats-after-being-ripped-by-houston-police-chief-for-inaction-on-violence-against-women-act

Democratic Candidate Elizabeth Warren to Open San Antonio Office on Saturday as Part of Texas Focus

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren's campaign will open San Antonio and Austin offices this weekend as part of an early focus on organizing in the Lone Star State.

Texas for Warren will open the offices Saturday, December 14, and host training for supporters interested in working with the campaign. Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth offices will follow in the next few weeks, according to a press announcement.

Warren ranks third in national polling for the nomination, behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Her early emphasis on Texas, long considered a write-off for progressives, could be another sign Dems think demographic changes have put the state into play.

In August, Warren named longtime San Antonio political organizer Jenn Longoria as Texas director, becoming first non-Texan presidential hopeful to name a campaign leader for the state this cycle.

Read more: https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2019/12/11/democratic-candidate-elizabeth-warren-to-open-san-antonio-office-on-saturday-as-part-of-texas-focus

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