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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 83,633

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

Texas Rail Prospects Tempt French, Chinese, Japanese

Despite its car-is-king reputation, Texas has emerged as a hot market for international rail firms betting the state is ripe for a boom in high-speed rail projects.

For more than three years, Texas Central Partners has drawn attention with its plans to develop a Dallas-Houston high-speed rail line using Japanese trains. While that project is furthest along, French and Chinese rail interests are more quietly discussing the prospects for rail projects with state and local officials.

“There comes a time when adding lanes is not a solution anymore, and that’s when you realize you need more public transportation,” said Alain Leray, president of SNCF America, the U.S. subsidiary of French rail operator SNCF. The company has been talking with Texas officials in earnest for about a year about potential rail projects, Leray said.

Chinese-backed rail interests have also approached some transportation officials in Texas about future projects, several transportation officials confirmed. Requests for comment through the Chinese consulate in Houston were not returned.

Read more: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/11/11/chinese-french-join-japan-texas-rail-hunt/

UT/TT Poll: With Tea Party Option, Texans Show Split in Support

Texas voters want their congressional representatives on short leashes, acting in line with voters’ wishes rather than their own beliefs, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Nearly two-thirds of voters said their members of Congress should act on the beliefs of their constituents rather than on their personal beliefs (12 percent) or those of their political parties (10 percent).

“There is a lack of faith in those representatives to represent people, and that kind of shows through in this,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

Should leaders compromise, or should they stand on principle in the face of political and policy conflicts? Voters split down the middle, with 51 percent choosing compromise and 49 percent choosing conviction. The answers to that were strongly partisan: 69 percent of Republicans preferred conviction, and 75 percent of Democrats preferred compromise.

Read more: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/11/13/uttt-poll-texans-want-leaders-wholl-follow-voters/

State will close La Marque ISD

Galveston County's La Marque ISD will officially be no more as of July 1, 2016, state education officials confirmed.

On Thursday, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams notified La Marque ISD officials of the decision to revoke their accreditation.

"The district will be merged with another school district in the area," said DeEtta Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the education agency.

The 2,500-student district earned the state's lowest academic ratings in three of the last four years (the state did not issue ratings in 2012.)

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/State-will-reportedly-close-La-Marque-ISD-6628795.php

Once Again, Texas Still the Worst in the Nation When it Comes to the Uninsured

We are currently in the thick of the third open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, the time when Texans can shop around and enroll in a health insurance plan using the federal insurance marketplace at healthcare.gov. As much as Republicans have derided Obamacare, Texans have already benefitted immensely from the Affordable Care Act — more than 900,000 people have gotten covered over the past two years. Though these numbers are impressive, a new study suggests that it’s still not enough, because Texas is still the state with the highest uninsured population, even after the Affordable Care Act.

According to a new study from the financial group WalletHub, Texas ranks dead last in the percentage of residents who still lack health insurance. WalletHub found that 19.06% of Texans are still uninsured, a drop of about 5% from 2010, before the Affordable Care Act became law. In comparison, the state that ranked first, Massachusetts, had only 3.28% uninsured. California, a state that has a large population and has cooperated with Obamacare, saw its uninsured rate fall by over 6% to about 12% uninsured, placing it in the middle of the list at position 36.

Vulnerable Texans are faring the worst. Not only does Texas rank last overall when it comes to the uninsured, Texas is also dead last when it comes to the percentage of children who are uninsured. 11% of Texas kids lack health insurance, a rate that is nearly double the national average. People who are white and higher income are most likely to have health insurance, while low-income minority populations are still uninsured. According to the WalletHub report:

The uninsured rate for whites is 32.85 percent lower than that for blacks.
The uninsured rate for whites is 63.92 percent lower than that for Hispanics.
The uninsured rate for higher-income households is 72.25 percent lower than that for lower-income households.

Read more: http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/31312/once-again-texas-still-the-worst-in-the-nation-when-it-comes-to-the-uninsured

Secret Service Officer Charged With Soliciting a Minor, Sending Obscene Photos

Source: ABC News

A Secret Service officer assigned to the White House was arrested and charged with soliciting a minor and sending obscene material to what authorities say he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

The uniformed officer, Lee Robert Moore, was actually communicating online with an undercover agent, authorities said today.

Federal and state charges revealed today show that he is accused of sending explicit messages and of trying to arrange a meeting for a sexual encounter with a minor. He also allegedly asked for compromising pictures and video of the child.

Some of the sordid communication, which occurred over a period of weeks, allegedly took place while Moore was on duty, working at the White House.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/secret-service-officer-charged-soliciting-minor-sending-obscene/story?id=35169352

Required Longview ISD meeting on Primerica violated state law

An Oct. 7 mandatory meeting at which Longview High School staff members were forced to listen to a sales pitch from a finance company violated state law.

"The prohibition on school districts requiring or coercing an employee's attendance at any meeting at which qualified investment products are marketed is a prohibition under state law (see Vernon's Civil Statutes, Article 6228a-5, Section 9)," said Howard Goldman, director of communications for the Teacher Retirement System.

The state law Goldman referenced was passed in 2007. It lists guidelines for educational institutions regarding 403(b) products — products that Longview ISD Superintendent James Wilcox has said he advocates as a representative of Primerica.

The law states an educational institution cannot "require or coerce an employee's attendance at any meeting at which qualified investment products are marketed."

Read more: http://www.news-journal.com/news/2015/nov/08/required-longview-isd-meeting-on-primerica-violate/

Longview ISD parents tell board superintendent should step down

Longview ISD parents, graduates and community stakeholders Monday night called for the resignation of part-time Superintendent James Wilcox and for the school board to begin a search for a full-time leader for the city's largest school district.

Parents also suggested school board members should be subject to term limits similar to those in place for the Longview City Council and said recent problems in the district, including a mid-semester classroom shakeup at Hudson PEP Elementary School and a loaded gun being brought onto campus at Longview High School, have been especially troubling.

Parent Jason Bates, who has organized a petition calling for the district to replace Wilcox, said many of the problems in the district "can be traced back to the person who isn't on staff — a full-time superintendent."

"We want a full-time superintendent," Bates told the school board Monday night. "Give the people who elected you what they ask for. You are the spokesmen for the community. Give us what we want or leave the board. You must all wake up to the issues you have fostered, take action and, I hope, prevent another ignorant glitch in the system. The next one might not be so easy to work through."

Read more: http://www.news-journal.com/news/2015/nov/09/longview-isd-parents-tell-board-wilcox-should-step/

San Patricio County commissioner pleads no contest, resigns

Longtime San Patricio County Commissioner Jim Price took a plea deal for a suspended jail term and resigned from office.

Price, 57, pleaded no contest Thursday to abuse of official capacity, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to one year in jail, which was suspended for one year of probation, according to court officials.

As part of the deal, Price had to repay the county more than $18,000, which he paid with a cashier's check at the courthouse, County Judge Terry Simpson said.

Texas Rangers arrested Price on July 28. He was originally facing theft by a public servant, a third-degree felony.

Read more: http://www.caller.com/news/local/crime/san-patricio-county-commissioner-pleads-guilty-resigns--245922bd-63e7-176e-e053-0100007f6dea-346944722.html

Eight-year-old Alabama boy charged with murder

In a case that highlights the decay of the American justice system, an eight-year-old boy was charged last Tuesday with the murder of a one-year-old toddler in Birmingham, Alabama. Due to his age, the child’s name has not been released but he is being held in the custody of the state Department of Human Resources.

In events that can only be described as tragic, Kelci Devine Lewis, only one year old, was found unresponsive in her crib on October 12, and pronounced dead that morning at a local hospital. According to the Birmingham Police Department, she had suffered “severe head trauma, as well as major internal organ damage.”

The toddler and her mother, Katerra M. Lewis, had been staying temporarily at the house of a family friend who had five children aged two, four, six, seven and eight. According to the police, all six children were left alone the night of October 11 with Lewis and her friend returning at 2 AM. Lewis disputes this account, claiming the children were left with an adult.

In addition to the murder charge against the eight-year-old, Lewis has been charged with manslaughter in the death of her daughter.

Read more: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/11/13/brut-n13.html

The Political Lessons of Syriza’s Betrayal in Greece

Statement of the International Committee of the Fourth International

1. An immense strategic experience for the working class

The September 2015 election that returned the Syriza (“Coalition of the Radical Left”) government, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, to power in Greece concludes a definite stage in what has proved to be an immense strategic experience for the working class.

As it swept into office in January, Syriza pledged to end European Union (EU) austerity measures. The EU’s savage social attacks had placed Greece at the center of the relentless global assault on living standards and basic rights of workers that has proceeded since the 2008 crash, and millions of workers and youth internationally looked to the struggles of the Greek working class. Media coverage, criticisms of Syriza from reactionary EU politicians, and the statements of Syriza itself all led masses of people to believe that Tsipras and his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, were firebrands ready to take on Greek and international capitalism.

Both within and outside of Greece, countless parties presenting themselves as “anti-capitalist” or “left” hailed Syriza’s rise to power as a triumph for the left and a model for the struggle against austerity in Europe and internationally.

In the ensuing eight months, however, Syriza comprehensively betrayed its election promises. After signing an agreement to extend EU austerity measures in February, only weeks after coming to power, it trampled the landslide “no” vote in the referendum on austerity that it organized in July and rammed a massive new austerity bailout through parliament.

Read more: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/11/13/icfi-n13.html

Germany moves to seal external borders against refugees

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière declared this week that refugees arriving on the German border will be deported back to the first European Union country they entered, in a reversal of policies that have been in place since August.

Germany’s move to strengthen its border regime will have catastrophic humanitarian consequences, intensify tensions in Europe and increase the danger of war. It reflects the fact that a small, right-wing cabal around de Maizière and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is increasingly determining the German government’s refugee policies.

De Maizière said Tuesday that Syrian refugees arriving on the German border were being treated according to the Dublin agreement, and that this had been the case since October 21. The Dublin III protocol provides that refugees must make an asylum application in the country they enter first in the EU. If they make an application in another country, they can be deported to the original country of entry. The only exception currently is Greece, according to the ministry.

In addition, refugees from Syria are not being provided protection in accordance with the Geneva Conventions on refugees. The vast majority of Syrian refugees, who traveled through Turkey or other allegedly “safe countries of origin” during their journey, will only receive subsidiary protection. They will receive the right to reside for just one year rather than three years, and they cannot bring their family members to Germany.

Read more: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/11/13/refu-n13.html
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