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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: 77,765

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

UT endowment second-largest in the nation, according to Bloomberg data

by Shannon Najambadi, Texas Tribune

Bolstered by booming oil prices, the University of Texas' endowment hit $31 billion in value this summer, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News — making UT's endowment second only to Harvard University's in size among the country's institutions of higher education.

Harvard's endowment had a value of $39.2 billion, according to Bloomberg's data. Yale University, whose endowment often tops UT's in value, was at $29.4 billion, though the Texas system's more than 235,000 students dwarf Yale's 12,300.

The price of oil has dropped since the fall, a change not reflected in Bloomberg's numbers, which are current through June 30.

The Texas endowment dates back to 1876, when the state set aside more than 1 million acres of West Texas land to support the development of the UT and Texas A&M University systems. The value of the fund shot up with the discovery of oil, and the advancement of hydraulic fracturing technology. In 2010, the fund was worth some $10.7 billion. Last year, it was up to $19.5 billion.

Read more: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/12/26/university-texas-endowment-harvard/

Muslim Nonprofit Wants Virginia County's Ordinance Blocking Cemetery Waived

A Muslim nonprofit is asking a Virginia county to waive an ordinance that essentially blocks the group's proposed cemetery and has led to a federal investigation into religious discrimination.

Citing the variance request filed Dec. 21, The Free Lance-Star reports that the Stafford County Board of Supervisors approved changes to the county's cemetery ordinance in 2016, a year after the All Muslim Association of America purchased a 29-acre (12-hectare) plot. The ordinance was adopted after neighbors raised concerns about well contamination, and the regulations are stricter than state code.

In September, the Board of Supervisors voted to maintain the ordinance. The group could appeal to the circuit court if the request is denied.

The newspaper reports that in December 2016, supervisors voted to prohibit new cemeteries within 900 feet of private wells, reservoirs and streams that drain into reservoirs. Proponents of the ordinance say legitimate health concerns, not religion, was the motivation for the change.

Read more: https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Muslim-Cemetery-Stafford-County-Virginia-503506701.html

Hogan announces contract agreement with 1,500 state health care workers

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday that a contract deal has been reached with about 1,500 state health care workers.

The agreement with the American Federation of Teachers-Healthcare Maryland will grant the members of that union a 3 percent cost of living increase on July 1, followed by another 1 percent increase in 2020 — contingent upon state revenues exceeding projections by $75 million.

Some of the employees, including addiction counselors, epidemiologists, mental health counselors and nurses, will receive an additional 6 percent increase “to assist with state recruitment and retention efforts,” according to the governor’s office.

The increases are on top of previously-negotiated increases of 2 percent in January and a half-percent plus $500 bonus in April.

Read more: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/breaking/bs-md-health-union-agreement-20181221-story.html

Former bank executives sentenced to prison for fraud

WILMINGTON, Del.— Two former executives of the only financial institution criminally charged in connection with the federal bank bailout program were sentenced to prison Wednesday for misleading investors and federal regulators about the bank’s troubled condition in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Former Wilmington Trust chief credit officer William North, 59, was sentenced to 4½ years in prison, while former controller Kevyn Rakowski, 65, was sentenced to three years. North must also pay a $100,000 fine.

The sentencings came two days after former Wilmington Trust president Robert Harra Jr. and former chief financial officer David Gibson were both sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay fines of $300,000 each.

The defendants were convicted on all counts in May after a six-week trial. Prosecutors said they deliberately hid the truth about Wilmington Trust’s massive amount of past-due commercial real estate loans before the bank was hastily sold while teetering on the edge of collapse. In the fourth quarter of 2009, for example, Wilmington Trust officials reported only $10.8 million in commercial loans as 90 days or more past due, concealing more than $316 million in past-due loans subject to an internal “waiver” practice for reporting purposes.

Read more: https://delawarestatenews.net/business/former-bank-executives-sentenced-to-prison-for-fraud/

Nearly One-Third of the City's Public Housing Stock Is at Risk of Becoming Uninhabitable

In August, City Paper reported on the deteriorated conditions of D.C.’s public housing units.

As one of the District’s largest landlords, the DC Housing Authority is responsible for providing affordable, safe, and clean homes to 20,000 of D.C.’s most financially vulnerable residents. But many of them, we reported, live in units thick with black mold, where rats eat through refrigerators and ceilings routinely cave in, and where “fixing” pest issues can mean nailing kitchen cabinets over a blanket of cockroaches.

At the time of City Paper’s report, which detailed the living conditions of six families at four public housing properties, the Housing Authority was partway through a structural audit of its 56-building portfolio.

DCHA paid millions to external companies for the audit, which analyzed the authority’s properties for two things. The first, required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, was a survey of lead hazards; the second, a survey of pest, mold, lead, structural, and other environmental hazards, completed through visual inspections of each unit in DCHA’s portfolio. The authority has completed the former, and expects to complete the latter by the end of January 2019.

Read more: https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/housing-complex/article/21038117/nearly-onethird-of-the-citys-public-housing-stock-is-at-risk-of-becoming-uninhabitable

Maryland requiring financial disclosure for inaugural balls

For the first time in Maryland, private donations from people and corporations that fund inaugural festivities for the governor will be made public in financial disclosure reports required by law.

While the measure was passed in 2015 and signed into law by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan , his inauguration for a second term in January will be the first one since the law went on the books. Maryland law previously was silent on the matter of disclosing how much corporations were spending to pick up the tabs of inaugural balls.

Damon Effingham, executive director of the government-watchdog group Common Cause Maryland, described the Maryland law as "a good step forward" in increasing transparency. Still, he questioned whether "lavish inauguration events (is) a culture we want to continue," and said he hoped that the state one day will enact "capped limits" on inauguration spending.

The state of Washington is among the few states that have taken steps to reduce the use of corporate money in inaugural celebrations by designating a non-partisan committee of citizen volunteers to plan inaugural balls, with all costs covered by the price of admission.

Read more: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-maryland-requiring-financial-disclosure-for-inaugural-balls-20181224-story.html

Delaware's revenue projection's up. How to spend it could lead to a showdown.

Delaware's revenue outlook is shaping up to be fairly rosy for a second straight year.

And that could foreshadow an impending clash between the General Assembly and Gov. John Carney.

The Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council projects state government will see an additional $102 million this fiscal year on top of what lawmakers planned for when they passed a $4.27 billion operating budget in June.

The panel of state officials and economists on Wednesday also upgraded its revenue forecast for fiscal year 2020 by $46 million.

Read more: https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/20/delawares-revenue-projections-up-setting-stage-future-showdown/2310115002/

Did a Queens Podiatrist Help Donald Trump Avoid Vietnam?

In the fall of 1968, Donald J. Trump received a timely diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that led to his medical exemption from the military during Vietnam.

For 50 years, the details of how the exemption came about, and who made the diagnosis, have remained a mystery, with Mr. Trump himself saying during the presidential campaign that he could not recall who had signed off on the medical documentation.

Now a possible explanation has emerged about the documentation. It involves a foot doctor in Queens who rented his office from Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, and a suggestion that the diagnosis was granted as a courtesy to the elder Mr. Trump.

The podiatrist, Dr. Larry Braunstein, died in 2007. But his daughters say their father often told the story of coming to the aid of a young Mr. Trump during the Vietnam War as a favor to his father.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/us/politics/trump-vietnam-draft-exemption.html

Kentucky man charged with throwing Christmas ham at woman

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — Authorities say a Kentucky man has been arrested after he threw a ham at a woman during an argument over which day Christmas dinner should take place.

WAVE-TV reports that David Brannon was arrested Sunday after he tried to flee from police officers who reported to a home on a domestic dispute call.

The Laurel County Sheriff's Office said Brannon threw items at the woman, including the ham to be eaten for Christmas dinner.

Deputies say several items were found on the kitchen floor.

Read more: https://www.timesunion.com/news/crime/article/Kentucky-man-charged-with-throwing-Christmas-ham-13490163.php

Texas couple's nativity display shows baby Jesus caged in ICE custody

An Austin couple is making a Christmas tradition of controversial nativity displays in their front yard.

This year's nativity has the manger of baby Jesus in a cage labeled "ICE," separated from a mournful Mary and Joseph.

"We are making a statement because during this holiday season no matter what country you live in, no matter what your ethnicity is, you should be with your family at this time," resident Kate Naranjo told KTBC-TV. "This is a reflection of Jesus' story. He was a refugee."

The display included a scroll with text from the Statue of Liberty, reading "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

Read more: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/holidays/2018/12/25/texas-couples-nativity-display-shows-baby-jesus-caged-ice-custody
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