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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: 77,641

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

US judge rejects bid to kill Keystone pipeline lawsuits

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Environmentalists and Native Americans can proceed with lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump’s approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, a federal judge in Montana ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris expressed skepticism over government arguments that Trump has unilateral authority to approve the $8 billion pipeline. In a separate ruling, the judge said the Rosebud Sioux and Fort Belknap Indian tribes had valid claims that approval of the line violated their treaty rights.

But Morris denied a request from environmentalists to impose a court injunction blocking preliminary work on the pipeline, since no such work is planned until spring 2020.

Morris had blocked work on the line in 2018, prompting Trump to issue a new permit in March in an attempt to circumvent the courts.

Read more: https://www.oaoa.com/news/state/article_30cb53f1-9b97-5f67-b1b8-2d4e89c3bb30.html
(Odessa American)

Did a Miami-based modeling agency fuel Jeffrey Epstein's 'machine of abuse'?

By Linda Robertson, Julie K. Brown, and Nicholas Nehamas

The yellow sign for MC2 Model Management is still posted in a second-floor window overlooking Lincoln Road. It’s an echo of the modeling mecca years, when South Beach was like walking into a Calvin Klein underwear ad, with head-turning men and women on every corner, and photo crews lined up on the sand.

The office has been locked for at least two years, tenants say, and the parade of aspiring cover girls has ceased.

Here Jeffrey Epstein and Jean-Luc Brunel created the boutique firm MC2, years before Epstein’s arrest on charges of sex-trafficking minors. What better pipeline than a modeling agency that would recruit young girls dreaming of a glamorous career and provide a stream of slender bodies, one after the other, as if they were strutting down Epstein’s personal catwalk?

The underage girls from Royal Palm Beach High, shopping malls and trailer parks enticed to Epstein’s waterfront estate to give him massages — massages that turned into sexual assaults — weren’t the Palm Beach multimillionaire’s only victims. He also had an appetite for models, and Brunel fed that appetite.

Read more: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article238351108.html

Congressional Democrats take aim at Puerto Rico's role as tax haven for the wealthy

By Jim Wyss

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO -- Congressional Democrats on Friday took aim at Puerto Rico’s role as a tax haven, asking the U.S. Treasury to investigate if the struggling island is helping the wealthy dodge federal and state taxes with little apparent benefit to the local economy.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, four representatives asked for information regarding two Puerto Rican tax incentives, Acts 20 and 22, that were passed in 2012 with the goal of luring wealthy individuals and service-providing companies to the island.

Beneficiaries of the measures pay virtually no local income tax if they reside in Puerto Rico at least half the year; in addition, most Puerto Rican residents are exempt from federal income tax.

The laws have “enabled high-income individuals and profitable service businesses to avoid any Federal or territorial taxation on some income and to owe extremely low rates of tax on other income,” the lawmakers wrote. “By ‘residing’ on the island for 183 days per year, these individuals now avoid both Federal and local taxes. This results in tax benefits that individuals and businesses could not obtain anywhere else in the world. In other words, Puerto Rico has become a tax haven from the Federal government.”

Read more: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/international-business/article238590978.html

Andrew Gillum to campaign for state legislative candidates endorsed by Forward Florida

Andrew Gillum is hitting the 2020 campaign trail after his political committee, Forward Florida, endorsed more than 20 Democrats in legislative races statewide.

“I’m thrilled to be supporting fantastic candidates all across Florida and to be working on building lasting Democratic infrastructure in this state,” Gillum said in a Tuesday statement announcing the news.

Gillum says he’ll be visiting those targeted districts in January and February.

In early December, 21 Democratic candidates secured the endorsement of Forward Florida. That move came after a late November announcement that Forward Florida would be giving $150,000 to the Florida Democratic Party House Victory Caucus, a group aimed at helping Democrats take the state House.

Read more: https://floridapolitics.com/archives/313775-gillum-campaign-legislative-candidates

Who won Thursday's Democratic debate? Bettors say Joe Biden

By Noah Pransky

According to users of online prediction/betting site PredictIt, Joe Biden was the winner of Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Los Angeles, as forecasters put new money behind the former vice president’s bid for the oval office, signifying new confidence in him maintaining his front-runner status.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg also performed well in the eyes of PredictIt users.

Biden didn’t speak as much as some of his top rivals Thursday night, but got high marks from pundits immediately following the debate. Bettors echoed the sentiment, boosting shares for his Democratic primary win from 32 cents on the dollar to 35 cents. That equates to a 35% confidence in Biden securing the nomination.

PredictIt is run by Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand; participants can place wagers on candidates and other political props by buying “shares” on a bet, costing between 1 cent and 1 dollar per share.

Read more: https://floridapolitics.com/archives/314171-who-won-thursdays-democratic-debate-bettors-say-joe-biden

Morgan says he's ready to 'go to war' for a ballot measure to raise Florida's minimum wage

By Lloyd Dunkelberger

A day after the Florida Supreme Court approved a $15-an-hour minimum wage ballot measure, Orlando lawyer John Morgan says he is ready to “go to war” for the working poor in Florida to pass the proposal in the 2020 general election.

“What I’m fixing to do is go to war on behalf of the working poor in Florida. I have no intention of ever running for political office. I have no intention of ever doing one of these ever again,” Morgan said during a press conference Friday in Orlando. “This is, without question, my last crusade, and I’m going to give it everything I have.”

Morgan said he expects opposition from business groups and Republican political leaders.

“If you have a better idea than my idea, do something. Put up or shut up. Unless you believe that it’s fair that the minimum wage is going to go this year from $8.46 an hour to $8.56 an hour [in January]. A dime. A dime raise,” Morgan said. “Is a constitutional amendment the perfect way to address the minimum wage? Of course not. But it’s the only way.”

Read more: https://www.floridaphoenix.com/2019/12/20/morgan-says-hes-ready-to-go-to-war-for-a-ballot-measure-to-raise-floridas-minimum-wage/

Florida GOP Chair Filed Another Bill to Protect Online Racists, So Let's Insult Him

By Jerry Iannelli

State Sen. Joe Gruters is the target of a lot of online harassment. Much of it comes from this publication. His head looks like a wart-covered toe that learned to talk. His face can only be described as "honey-glazed" or "rotisserie." He looks like a gopher that sells life insurance. He could pass for Business Diglett.

Those jokes might be mean, but according to a new bill that Gruters — the deeply pro-Trump chair of the Florida GOP — filed yesterday, we have a right to lob them at him. For the second year in a row, Gruters has filed a bill to protect online racists, misogynists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and general bigots of all shades and stripes from being banned from social media.

For the second year in a row, Gruters has filed his so-called Stop Social Media Censorship Act in the Florida Senate. The bill, which died in committee last year, lets social media users in Florida sue any social networking site with more than 75 million users if they're banned for saying hurtful or offensive stuff online. When Gruters filed the bill during the last election cycle, he said in a clear self-own that the bill was designed to protect the voices of "conservatives and Christians [who] feel they've been targeted."

The bill's text, somewhat offensively, defines hate speech as "a phrase concerning content that an individual finds offensive based on his or her personal moral code," as opposed to the term's more usual definition: words slandering specific groups of people, such as people of color or the LGBTQ community. Under Gruters' bill, anyone banned for hate speech could sue whichever social networks they're banned from for, say, posting images from fascist boards on 4chan or attacking members of religious or ethnic groups. A few prominent Floridians could stand to benefit — notably, permanently banned person Laura Loomer, who is running against Congresswoman Lois Frankel in a comedically lopsided U.S. House race in South Florida.

Read more: https://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/florida-sen-joe-gruters-files-bill-to-protect-online-hate-speech-10392987

Switzerland shuts down 47-year-old nuclear power plant

BERLIN (AP) — Switzerland has begun shutting down one of its oldest nuclear power plants after 47 years of operation.

The Muehleberg Nuclear Power Plant about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the capital Bern will be taken off the grid shortly after noon Friday.

Operator BKW said it plans to begin dismantling the plant in January, a process that will take until 2034 and is estimated to cost 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.1 billion).

Muehleberg is the smallest of Switzerland's four remaining nuclear power plants.


Late-starting candidate Deval Patrick lays out policy vision

By Alexandra Jaffe

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Deval Patrick has outlined a broad policy agenda while jabbing at his progressive rivals for proposals that he considers too ideologically inflexible.

The former Massachusetts governor held a policy roundtable Thursday in Manchester, New Hampshire, and told reporters afterward that while “others have plans, we actually have results.”

“We got there not by saying it was this way or no way,” he said. “We got there by saying here are the goals and how do we build the coalition to get it done and share the victory.”

The policy goals “are in many cases similar,” Patrick acknowledged when asked how his ideas differed from what other candidates are proposing. “But I don’t think anyone else has the range of experience in actually delivering on some of these things,” he said.

Read more: https://www.rutlandherald.com/ap/politics/late-starting-candidate-deval-patrick-lays-out-policy-vision/article_766c5b4e-e9fa-5b78-a2f7-628f64478e58.html

Health system pays $575 million to settle anti-trust lawsuit

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — One of Northern California's largest health systems will pay $575 million to settle claims that it used anti-competitive practices to bump up costs for patients, the state's attorney general said Friday, though that falls short of damages sought in a related private lawsuit that could have exceeded $1 billion.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra had sought an injunction to stop the alleged anti-trust practices by Sutter Health, but no monetary damages. The settlement imposes a new court-approved monitor on the health system for 10 years to ensure it is not using anti-competitive practices with insurance companies to increase patients' costs.

Becerra called it “one of the largest actions against anti-competitive conduct in the health care marketplace across the country, with unprecedented levels of injunctive relief to restore competition in the market.” It is larger than recent similar settlements with other providers in North Carolina and Washington state, his office said.

The settlement immediately set off a debate between hospitals and consumer advocates over whether it will limit or increase health care costs.

Read more: https://www.rutlandherald.com/news/business/health-system-pays-million-to-settle-anti-trust-lawsuit/article_ed8592a4-e6a7-5b8b-b846-f708fdec02ff.html
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