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TexasTowelie

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 02:57 AM
Number of posts: 73,178

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

Mayor Parker, city of Houston move same-sex benefits lawsuit out of Republican judge’s court

Mayor Annise Parker and the city of Houston have moved a lawsuit challenging same-sex benefits out of Republican Judge Lisa Millard’s court after she allegedly halted the benefits without giving the city proper notice.

City Attorney David Feldman filed a “Notice of Removal” on Friday saying the lawsuit belongs in U.S. district court instead of state court because it raises federal questions, including the guarantees of equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution. The notice of removal says Millard, who presides over the 310th State District Family Court, failed to notify Parker and the city before holding a hearing at 5 p.m. on Dec. 17 — the same day the lawsuit was filed — and issuing an order halting the benefits.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Harris County Republicans Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks, allege the same-sex benefits violate the city’s charter and Texas’ bans on same-sex marriage. The plaintiffs are represented by Harris GOP chair Jared Woodfill, an attorney who has said the suit belongs in Millard’s court because it relates to statutes banning same-sex marriage in the Texas Family Code.

According to a legal expert, the notice of removal filed by the city on Friday automatically moves the case into federal court for the time being. To get it back in state court, the plaintiffs would have to ask a federal judge to remand it.

More at http://www.lonestarq.com/city-houston-moves-sex-benefits-case-judge-lisa-millards-court/ .

Flu cases spike in Texas, 13 dead in Houston area

Source: AP

Officials are reporting a spike in flu cases in Texas with more than a dozen deaths in the Houston area, most of which were caused by the H1N1 strain that's also known as the swine flu.

According to a count compiled by KHOU in Houston, 13 people have died in the Greater Houston, including a teenager (http://bit.ly/1fKUsjA ). Kathy Barton, spokeswoman for the city's health department, says the teenager was infected with the H1N1 strain of the virus. About 95 percent of the Texas influenza A cases are H1N1.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Texas is one of four states with "high" activity of influenza-like illnesses.

State health officials say influenza has become widespread across Texas.

Read more: http://www.statesman.com/ap/ap/health/flu-cases-spike-in-texas-13-dead-in-houston-area/ncWn3/

Aggie reunited with ring after it catches the eye of wastewater treatment plant worker

It had been through the wastewater treatment plant countless times when Ron Waters noticed it.

Earlier this month, Waters, a water services technician for College Station, was almost done washing down a debris slab at the Carters Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant when a sparkle of light caught his eye.

"The stuff on the slab is not supposed to shine," Waters said. "I reached down and sure enough, there it was -- a woman's Aggie ring."

The ring belonged to Megan Marie Hubbard, a 2011 Texas A&M graduate who lost her ring two weeks before graduating when it fell into a toilet and flushed automatically before she could retrieve it. Almost two-and-a-half years later, the ring's shimmering diamond set Waters on a path to reunite it with its owner.

More at http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/article_4eca6dce-6a90-5779-89d3-14f188e6555c.html .

[font color=maroon]It's time for a good news story.[/font]

New Analysis: Fracking Water Use Underestimated in Eagle Ford Shale

The amount of water used by frackers in South Texas is increasingly coming into focus—and it’s considerably more than official estimates. In June, the Observer analyzed two different data sources to estimate how much water fracking consumed in three drought-stricken counties in the Eagle Ford Shale. Looking at industry-reported data to the website FracFocus.org, we determined that in 2012, fracking-related water usage in just those three counties totaled almost 15,000 acre-feet, or roughly half what the Texas Railroad Commission has said the entire 24-county Eagle Ford Shale will use a decade from now when oil and gas production is expected to peak.

One expert we spoke to, extrapolating from our findings across the whole shale, said the current regional total could be 40,000 to 45,000 acre-feet annually. (A detailed study by University of Texas researchers, paid for by the oil and gas industry, estimated that water consumption would peak at 35,000 acre-feet.)

A limitation to our analysis, of course, was that we only looked at three counties. But now the San Antonio Express-News has taken a similar approach for the entire Eagle Ford Shale. The paper’s findings square almost precisely with ours. Bottom-line: Fracking is consuming a lot more water than previously believed:

A widely cited study from the University of Texas at Austin, funded by the oil and gas industry, had predicted that hydraulic fracturing in the Eagle Ford would use a maximum of around 35,000 acre-feet of water annually.

But the San Antonio Express-News looked at more than 23,000 Texas wells drilled from 2011 to 2013, including more than 6,100 in the Eagle Ford, and found that the oil field is already swallowing more water.

Operators reported using around 43,770 acre-feet last year in 3,522 Eagle Ford wells, the approximate annual usage for 153,000 San Antonio households.

“The oil and gas boom is requiring more water than we have,” said Hugh Fitzsimons, a Dimmit County rancher and a director of the Wintergarden Groundwater Conservation District. “Period.”

It’s important to remember that production in the Eagle Ford Shale only began soaring about three years ago. Like so much with fracking, regulators, scientists, the industry and citizens are learning on the fly. All sorts of assumptions and received wisdom must be chucked out as we learn more. So it is with our assumptions about water consumption.

More at http://www.texasobserver.org/new-analysis-fracking-water-use-underestimated-eagle-ford-shale/ .

Friends and Family Mourn Mansfield Teen Who Died in Christmas Day Shootout With Police

When, in the predawn hours on Christmas morning, a Grand Prairie police officer spotted a suspicious 1997 Honda driving through the Grand Peninsula neighborhood near Joe Pool Lake, he didn't know the car was stolen, nor did he know the driver had a gun.

"Whatever he was doing caught the officer's attention, and that's when they pulled up to him and he just took off," Grand Prairie PD spokesman Mark Beseda would later tell The Dallas Morning News.

Police learned that the vehicle was stolen after the driver, identified as 16-year-old Mansfield Lake Ridge High School sophomore Peyton Barbour, abandoned it in an open field after a brief chase. They became aware of gun, a Glock 9-mm, also stolen, when Barbour fired a shot at the pursuing officer as he fled into the woods.

The ensuing manhunt lasted nearly 10 hours, though the geography -- an actual peninsula with plenty of hiding places but few escape routes -- along with the K-9 unit and police helicopter seemed to predestine Barbour's capture. And so, when a neighbor reported spotting a suspicious person in the 600 block of Seeton Road just before 2 p.m., police knew they had their man.

More at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/12/friends_and_family_mourn_mansf.php .

Historic cross toppled by vandals in Starr County; Jesus cut into pieces





RIO GRANDE CITY--Authorities are working to identify suspects who allgedly toppled a historic and holy monument known as La Santa Cruz, or the Holy Cross.

-snip-

The monument is a well-known historic site located on top of a hill that rises above U.S. Highway 83 in Rio Grande City.

The alleged act of vandalism was reported around 9 a.m. Christmas Day by the site's acting owner, who has maintained the cross for decades.

The historic wooden cross was cut down while the carved, crucified Jesus was cut into pieces.

More at http://www.valleycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=987535#.UrzF3U2A3cs .

Mack Brown aiming for higher buyout package from Texas

SAN ANTONIO —

Mack Brown is contractually obligated to receive at least $500,000 annually through 2020, but Texas’ soon-to-be former head football coach is pushing for a lot more.

Don Evans, a former UT regent and one-time U.S. Secretary of Commerce, is involved with Brown’s buyout negotiations with school officials, said Joe Jamail, Brown’s attorney and Texas benefactor.

Brown, who resigned Dec. 14 but will coach in Monday’s Alamo Bowl, is seeking as much as $1.3 million annually for the next seven years — the duration of his existing contract — under the title of special assistant to Texas President Bill Powers, a source with knowledge of the talks said.

-snip-

The UT System Board of Regents must approve any final agreement. A high-ranking UT source said that $1.3 million figure would not be approved.

-snip-

According to the terms of Brown’s contract, the coach would receive a one-time payment of $2.75 million if the school terminates him before Dec. 31, 2014. Brown resigned on Dec. 14, triggering the special assistant’s role that pays “a minimum of $500,000 annually,” according to the contract.

The complete article is at http://www.statesman.com/news/sports/college-football/brown-aiming-for-higher-buyout-package-from-texas/ncWRy/ (subscription required).

Cross-posted in Sports Group.

Mack Brown aiming for higher buyout package from Texas

SAN ANTONIO —

Mack Brown is contractually obligated to receive at least $500,000 annually through 2020, but Texas’ soon-to-be former head football coach is pushing for a lot more.

Don Evans, a former UT regent and one-time U.S. Secretary of Commerce, is involved with Brown’s buyout negotiations with school officials, said Joe Jamail, Brown’s attorney and Texas benefactor.

Brown, who resigned Dec. 14 but will coach in Monday’s Alamo Bowl, is seeking as much as $1.3 million annually for the next seven years — the duration of his existing contract — under the title of special assistant to Texas President Bill Powers, a source with knowledge of the talks said.

-snip-

The UT System Board of Regents must approve any final agreement. A high-ranking UT source said that $1.3 million figure would not be approved.

-snip-

According to the terms of Brown’s contract, the coach would receive a one-time payment of $2.75 million if the school terminates him before Dec. 31, 2014. Brown resigned on Dec. 14, triggering the special assistant’s role that pays “a minimum of $500,000 annually,” according to the contract.

The complete article is at http://www.statesman.com/news/sports/college-football/brown-aiming-for-higher-buyout-package-from-texas/ncWRy/ (subscription required).

Cross-posted in Texas Group.

Feds arrest Hidalgo County drug task force commander for smuggling and money laundering

McALLEN — Attorneys started preparing termination paperwork Thursday morning for disgraced Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office Cmdr. Jose Padilla, said Sheriff Lupe Treviño.

Federal agents arrested Padilla early Tuesday morning, when prosecutors unsealed an indictment against him for marijuana smuggling and money laundering. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted the investigation.

Padilla worked with a Weslaco-based drug trafficking operation run by Tomas "El Gallo" Gonzalez, who co-owns a trucking business called T&F Produce. The drug traffickers moved marijuana and cocaine from Texas to Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and other states, according to federal court records.

Sheriff Treviño said he expected the attorneys from McAllen-based law firm Atlas Hall and Rodriguez to finish the termination paperwork Thursday. They'll also have to determine whether to attempt to deliver the documents to Padilla — in federal detention — or his attorney.

More at http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/article_479a0f36-6e4e-11e3-baab-0019bb30f31a.html .

Another account of the story:

MCALLEN — Federal authorities say they've arrested the second ranking officer of a South Texas sheriff's office who was also the head of an embattled drug-fighting unit.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Nina Pruneda says Hidalgo County sheriff's Commander Jose "Joe" Padilla was arrested early Tuesday on federal charges of money laundering and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana.

Padilla headed the Panama Unit, the target of a broad federal investigation in which nine law enforcement officers have been convicted of conspiring with drug traffickers to steal drugs from rival gangs and resell the narcotics.

During the August trial of deputy Jorge Garza, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino testified that he had no knowledge of wrongdoing even as his son was a member of the unit.

More at http://www.mrt.com/statenation/article_c6398db2-6cdc-11e3-8eab-0019bb2963f4.html .

Houston police: Woman urinated on car in bizarre Christmas attack

A woman who allegedly brawled at a north Houston hotel and urinated on a car on Christmas Day is now in Harris County custody.

Leslie Calvillo, 18, has been charged with assault and bodily injury and failure to give correct ID to a police officer. The bizarre incident happened at around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Wingate Hotel, located at 1330 Sam Houston Parkway just south of Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Two witnesses told Houston Police Department officers that Calvillo entered the lobby of the hotel and began cursing and shedding clothes.

The woman went out into the parking lot and urinated on a man's car, according to HPD spokesman Kese Smith.

More at http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Houston-police-Woman-urinated-on-car-in-bizarre-5094182.php?cmpid=hpbn .
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