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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: 78,357

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

Schools honoring Confederate generals get new names as Dallas ISD pledges to strive for equity

Fifty years after the district absurdly declared itself "completely desegregated," Dallas ISD took two significant steps acknowledging and addressing its turbulent racial past.

DISD's board of trustees unanimously passed a sweeping resolution that recognized the intergenerational effects of racial and economic segregation on its students, pledging to confront inequities and "relentlessly pursue" improvements to fix them districtwide.

Trustees also unanimously approved new names for three elementary schools that honored Confederate generals: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and William L. Cabell.

"These changes says something about DISD and where we are as an institution," trustee Miguel Solis said. "This is bold leadership by Dr. [Michael] Hinojosa guiding us through this process. This is bold leadership by this board. And it's going to lay the path for not just acknowledgement of the history ... but also a path for remediation, and for real conversations about equity and equality and how to move our city forward for every single child to feel like they matter in this city, regardless of circumstances."

Read more: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/2017/12/15/schools-honoring-confederate-generals-get-new-names-dallas-isd-pledges-strive-equity

Two more undocumented teens denied access to abortion, ACLU says

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's administration is blocking two pregnant teens in the country illegally and being held in federal custody from obtaining abortions, the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday, a repeat of the situation that led to a high-profile court fight earlier this year.

Both girls arrived in the country as unaccompanied minors and are being held in federal shelters, the ACLU said, though it didn't say where. The ACLU earlier this year represented a pregnant teen in the same circumstances in Texas, helping her obtain an abortion following a lawsuit.

On Friday evening, the ACLU filed court papers updating the lawsuit filed in that earlier case to include the two additional teens, saying the facts of their cases are similar. The ACLU is asking a federal judge to order the government not to interfere with or obstruct the girls' access to abortions.

"Both minors have asked their respective doctors and their shelters for an abortion, but to date," the government has "not allowed them to access abortion," the ACLU wrote.

Read more: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/us-news/2017/12/15/two-undocumented-teens-denied-access-abortion-aclu-says

Feds pick preferred route for Dallas-to-Houston bullet train

The Dallas-to-Houston bullet train rolled a few inches closer to the starting line Friday with the release of a long-awaited federal study that narrows down several possible routes to a single path through powerline easements.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement, released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, doesn't necessarily endorse the so-called Utility Corridor. The feds still have 60 days to hear from the public before a final decision is made at a date undetermined. Ten public hearings will be scheduled in the next two months in the 10 counties affected by the 240-mile, $15 billion project privately funded by Texas Central Partners.

According to a briefing given to a Dallas City Council committee last month, Texas Central hopes to begin construction in late 2018 or early 2019, with service beginning in 2023. When finished, the train's expected to move travelers between Houston and Dallas in 90 minutes at speeds around 200 mph.

But the massive report released Friday is still a sketch. After the public comment period, a more detailed environmental study will follow, along with a final record of decision that fills in the big picture. And local and federal authorities expect significant push-back, especially in Houston, over land acquisition, environmental concerns and the fact that Houston's station would be far north of the city.

Read more: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/transportation/2017/12/15/feds-pick-preferred-route-dallas-houston-bullet-train

What Does Discrimination Look Like to Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones?

Before any of the attorneys even uttered a word, Judge Edith Jones already sounded irritated.

She called the case before her and the two other Fifth Circuit judges “twice-chewed food.” She even seemed to caution the lawyers: “Given that, maybe you can stimulate us.”

The occasion was a hearing last week on Texas’ strict voter ID rules, which the state is pushing to implement despite multiple rulings that lawmakers first passed them in 2011 with discriminatory intent. Jones sounded unenthused that the case’s circuitous route through the courts had brought the issue back to her bench.

On appeal last year, the majority of Fifth Circuit judges agreed that Texas’ voter ID rules were discriminatory in effect but basically punted on the issue of legislative intent and sent the case back to the trial court. Jones, a University of Texas School of Law graduate and Reagan appointee with a reputation for being one of the most conservative judges on the country’s infamously conservative federal appeals court, responded with a biting dissent that scolded her Fifth Circuit colleagues for even keeping the issue of racist intent alive without smoking-gun evidence. She compared anyone who buys the argument that Texas lawmakers intentionally passed a racist law to “Area 51 alien enthusiasts.”

Read more: https://www.texasobserver.org/fifth-circuit-appeals-judge-edith-jones/

Janitor Found Guilty of Overcharging Alamodome $500k for Cleaning Services

The owner of a San Antonio janitorial company has been convicted of seven charges relating to an invoice scam, after he overcharged the city more than $500,000 to clean the Alamodome.

Geoffrey Comstock, who owns the Frio Nevada Corporation, submitted fake invoices from 2014 to 2016 in which the company over-counted the number of employees and hours worked, racking up more than $500,000 in surplus charges, according court documents. Frio Nevada, which also operates as Go Professional Environmental Management, was contracted to clean the Alamodome from 2002 to 2016.

Comstock was convicted on December 13 of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and six counts of wire fraud. Because the Alamodome is operated by the City of San Antonio, it was the city that footed the half a million in overcharges. Comstock may have to pay the city around $1.5 million — the total amount the city paid Frio Nevada between 2014 to 2016, including the overcharges, according to his indictment.

Comstock and one of his employees, Anna Becerra, were indicted in October on conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges, months after the city terminated their contract with Comstock’s company for billing discrepancies, mySA.com reports. Unlike Comstock, Becerra was found not guilty of the fraud charges on Wednesday.

Read more: https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2017/12/15/janitor-found-guilty-of-overcharging-alamodome-500k-for-cleaning-services

Louisiana To Study Interstate Water Sales To Parched Texas Communities

Many drought-stricken Texas cities have long searched for alternative sources of water, including asking neighboring states for help. Now Louisiana has approved a measure to begin studying that very idea.

Louisiana’s Water Resources Commission approved a measure this month that sets up a group to study selling some of its water to parts of Texas, where population growth has exceeded or strained their existing water sources.

Robert Mace, chief water policy advisor for Meadows Center on Water and Environment at Texas State University in San Marcos, says there is definitely an interest among a large section of Texas communities to import water from outside of the state.

“There’s communities in the western half of the state that have a greater need for water than communities in the eastern half of the state, and then there is definitely a need for water for future growth along the ‘I-35 Future Growth Corridor,’ i.e., Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio,” Mace said.

Read more: http://tpr.org/post/louisiana-study-interstate-water-sales-parched-texas-communities

University Of Texas System Chancellor Announces Resignation

The chancellor of The University of Texas System is stepping down from his role in 2018.

William McRaven announced his resignation Friday during a special meeting of the UT System board of regents, which was conducted by telephone and broadcast online.

Board Chairman Sara Martinez Tucker said she asked McRaven to stay on as chancellor until the end of the academic year in May, and he agreed.

“There’s going to be a lot of speculation as to why I’m stepping down,” said McRaven, whose contract expires at the end of the month. “But the fact is, this is a very personal decision for me. As many of you know, over the past several months I’ve been dealing with some health issues. They are not serious. Let me say that again: They are not serious. But they have caused me to rethink my future.”

According to the Texas Tribune, the retired Navy admiral has chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Read more: http://tpr.org/post/university-texas-system-chancellor-announces-resignation

North Texas Men Allegedly Scam $1 Million Through Illuminati Investment Scheme

Two North Texas men spun an elaborate tale involving the Illuminati, the NBA and Under Armour in order to defraud a would-be real estate investor out of nearly $1 million, according to Dallas' U.S. Attorney's Office.

Dallas' Joshua Pugh and Frisco's Glenn Clifton will appear at a detention hearing Tuesday afternoon in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver, trying to avoid being locked up for the duration of their trials for wire fraud.

According to a federal indictment unsealed late last week, Pugh and Clifton targeted "Victim 1" in March 2016. The victim, the feds say, "was a devout, sheltered and rural cabinet maker in rural Texas."

Clifton told Victim 1 that Pugh, whom he called "Joshua Wealthy," was an heir to a rich family and that both were members of the Illuminati, a cabal of 43 families that Clifton claimed controlled the world "through the manipulation of banks, politics, and intelligence/law enforcement organizations."

Read more: http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/feds-allege-1-million-dfw-illuminati-scam-10160357

Julian Castro's Road to the White House Begins in Arizona

Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has spent 2017 preparing for what now looks like an inevitable run for president. But for Castro, a Democrat, the road to the White House doesn’t pass through his deeply red home state. Instead, it winds through Arizona, where he is speaking this Saturday at the Maricopa County Democratic Party winter convention in Phoenix.

When the question of presidential candidacy has been put to Castro, he’s consistently demurred, but he has also said he’ll decide by the end of the year whether he wants to run. In the meantime, he’s created the “Opportunity First” political action committee (named for his favorite catchphrase) in order to raise money for other Democratic candidates, and one surefire way to cultivate a political base is to support candidates in those states needed to win the presidential primary.

Castro has also spent the fall completing a personal memoir that he’d put on hold while serving as President Obama’s housing secretary. Political memoirs by second tier presidential contenders don’t necessarily sell, but they do provide an excuse to travel the country, meet potential supporters, and hone a message without the kind of media scrutiny that inevitably comes with being a top candidate.

Though this has been a year of intensive planning, Castro’s campaign for the White House actually began in May 2015, with a not-so-quiet effort to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Youthful and telegenic, Castro was touted as the Latino Barack Obama—a political unknown who was thrust into national prominence by a Democratic National Convention keynote address and an autobiographical book tour.

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/julian-castros-road-white-house-begins-arizona/

University Presidents Say Tax Reform Policy Will Hurt Texas Higher Education

Today, U.S. government leaders have enormous decisions to make about tax reform. Their choices will affect the future of our students and our universities. If the proposed policies are put in place, the ability of Texas students, both now and in the future, to earn life-changing degrees will be compromised.

We are the presidents of two universities in Texas — one public, one private. And many students from both The University of Texas at Austin and Trinity University rely upon financial aid that is drawn from endowments.

Both the House and Senate bills that are now being resolved by a conference committee propose a 1.4 percent excise tax on certain private nonprofit university endowments. This puts the college educations of many current and prospective students at risk, and it jeopardizes the financial stability of many private universities. The recent Senate vote on the tax bill brought Congress one step closer to enacting this and other policy changes that will have dire impacts on affordability at all American universities.

At a time when we face increases in economic and scientific competition around the globe, lawmakers should work to expand access to higher education. An educated and highly skilled American workforce benefits everyone, and it is our responsibility to ensure we maintain our global leadership role. Unfortunately, both the House and Senate tax bills counteract our national effort to do just that.

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/university-presidents-say-tax-reform-policy-will-hurt-texas-higher-education/
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