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Hometown: Texas
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Current location: Red Hell Texas
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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

FDIC closes Puerto Rico's Doral Bank; Banco Popular steps in

Source: AP

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shut down Puerto Rico-based Doral Bank on Friday, with Banco Popular taking over most of the operations of what once the U.S. territory's fourth largest bank.

Doral Bank had $5.9 billion in total assets and $4.1 billion in total deposits.

"It is the largest bank failure in five years," FDIC spokesman David Barr said in a phone interview.

The FDIC said Banco Popular will take over eight of Doral's 26 former branches and work with three other banks to operate the other 18 locations on the island. Banco Popular North America will operate Doral's three branches in New York City and Centennial Bank will take over its five branches in Florida.

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/nation-world/world/article11391731.html

US, Liberia start 1st formal test of ZMapp Ebola virus drug

Source: AP


The U.S. and Liberian governments have just begun the first formal patient testing of an experimental Ebola virus treatment that's only been used on an emergency basis.

The drug, ZMapp, contains three genetically engineered proteins designed to hone in on a target on the surface of the deadly virus to stop the disease's progression. ZMapp, developed by San Diego-based Mapp Pharmaceuticals Inc., is "grown" in tobacco plants engineered to make large quantities of the virus-blocking proteins.

Adults, as well as children of any age, will be enrolled in the study if they are admitted to Ebola treatment units in Liberia or are health care workers returning to the U.S. for treatment after being infected while serving in West Africa. That's happened to seven U.S. medical and aid workers.

In addition, adults and children who may have acquired Ebola in the United States from contact with an infected person will be enrolled. That has happened to only two people — the nurses who treated patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who had traveled from Africa and died at a Dallas hospital.

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/nation-world/national/article11352482.html

State Farm agrees to refund $352 million in overcharges to Texas customers

In a long-awaited win for consumers, State Farm Insurance agreed Friday to refund $352.5 million in excessive premiums to its Texas customers to settle a nearly 12-year-old legal battle over the company’s homeowner rates.

The massive settlement announced on Friday came after lengthy negotiations involving the company, Texas Department of Insurance and the Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel.

While State Farm repeatedly denied it overcharged its policyholders dating back to 2003, company officials finally gave in after failing to get a court ruling that overturned the original order for refunds by the state insurance commissioner.

That order accused the company of setting its premiums for homeowners insurance far above what was necessary to earn a reasonable profit.

Read more: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/02/state-farm-agrees-to-refund-352-million-in-overcharges-to-texas-customers.html/

Willacy County 'tent city' prison guards pointed guns at firemen, chief says

RAYMONDVILLE — “Miscommunication” late Wednesday night led prison guards to point guns at Raymondville firefighters who responded to a fire call from the so-called tent-city prison nearly a week after an inmate uprising left the facility under a “heightened security level,” officials said Thursday.

Raymondville Police Chief Oscar Gutierrez said guards pointed their guns at firefighters after a pumper truck, two fire trucks and several private vehicles were allowed through the prison gates to respond to the prison’s fire call about 10 p.m. Wednesday.

“There was unacceptable gun-pointing at some firemen,” Gutierrez said. “That was not necessary. It wasn’t exactly receptive. I made the decision that it was unsafe for fire department personnel and units to be there so we went back to the station.”

An official said a fire inside the prison was put out with a fire extinguisher before the firefighters arrived.

Read more: http://www.themonitor.com/news/local/willacy-tent-city-prison-guards-pointed-guns-at-firemen-chief/article_549c55ae-be2a-11e4-b92a-d3f154b4cd0d.html

[font color=green]Other news about the tent city prison:[/font]

“The prisoners’ overcrowded living quarters are infested by vermin, and they are given spoiled and inedible food,” the statement said.

The ACLU’s report stated that the organization’s inspection found overflowing toilets that leaked sewage, an instance in which “tap water started to look yellowish green” and “inadequate medical treatment.”


[font color=green]Is this really a surprise for a privately run prison with the contract given to the lowest bidder?[/font]

Government Programs Have Helped Over a Million Texas Children Out of Poverty

Over the past decade, Texas has become one of the worst states to be a kid. Texas ranks 43rd in overall child well-being, with more than a quarter of Texas children, or 1.7 million kids, that are currently living in poverty.

However, a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation has found that that number would have been much higher had it not been for federal and state poverty programs. According to the report, 1.2 million fewer Texas children are experiencing poverty thanks to state and federal poverty programs. That translates to 17 percentage points less than the Texas child poverty rate would have been without government programs.

The report cites the positive effects of “economic opportunity tools like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit [and]other bedrock programs like Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and housing subsidies” for alleviating poverty and improving families’ financial stability.

The report used the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) to examine the effect of anti-poverty programs in Texas. This measure supplements the official poverty measure, which was created in the 1960s and is considered by many to be inaccurate and outdated in the way it estimates the level of family income needed to get by. The official measure also does not account for differences in the cost of living between different areas of the country.

Read more: http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/29802/government-programs-helped-million-texas-children-poverty

Former Dewhurst campaign adviser sentenced to 7 years

AUSTIN — An ex-campaign adviser to David Dewhurst was sentenced Friday to more than seven years in federal prison for embezzling millions of dollars from the former lieutenant governor's campaign accounts.

Kenneth "Buddy" Barfield, an ex-Austin political consultant, plead guilty last October on charges of wire fraud, falsified tax returns and theft of campaign funds from a candidate for federal office, admitting to siphoning funds between 2008 and 2012 from two campaign accounts, the David Dewhurst Committee and Dewhurst for Texas.

In all, Barfield admitted to stealing nearly $2.8 million from the Dewhurst committees, including cash pilfered from Dewhurst campaign contributions during a 2012 U.S. Senate race against Ted Cruz. Barfield used the money to pay the mortgage on a columned, two-story mansion in West Austin, on school tuition for his children, on personal investments and for assorted other living costs.

Appearing before U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, Barfield said he deeply regretted his actions and apologized.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/Former-Dewhurst-campaign-adviser-sentenced-to-7-6105651.php

Now Our Carbon Emissions Are Threatening to Kill Off Delicious Shellfish

The list of food things that could potentially be harmed by increased carbon emissions is growing, and the latest addition really hits where it hurts. A new report in Nature Climate Change suggests oysters, mussels and other delicious bivalves could be threatened by the carbon we keep pumping into the atmosphere.

Here's how:

Carbon emissions are generally known for their contribution to global warming. But the same emissions have been absorbed by our oceans, where they have had a measurable impact on acidity. The effect of manmade carbon emission on acidity is low right now, but it's trending in the wrong direction. And even at these low levels bivalves have already been impacted.

Bivalves use calcium in the water to build their shells, and acidic water interferes with this process. Oysters, mussels, scallops and other bivalves -- basically the contents of the 20 Feet kitchen -- are the most sensitive to ocean acidity, though crabs and other crustaceans could also be effected.

The report calls out the Gulf as especially sensitive to higher pH levels as run-off from rivers adds extra acid to the mix. Making matters worse, the region suffers from a lack of biodiversity, which hurts species' ability to adapt to shitty conditions.

Read more: http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/cityofate/2015/02/ocean_acidification_shellfish.php

Ag Commissioner Says Consumers Being "Screwed"

Texas consumers are “getting screwed” by unscrupulous businesses — everything from gas stations to pawn shops — because the cash-strapped Department of Agriculture has not been able to perform many of its basic regulatory functions, according to new Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

The department is supposed to check gas pumps for accuracy, verify that grocery store scanners work properly, attest that precious metal scales are producing accurate measures and even inspect taxicab meters to verify that people aren’t being overcharged.

But after the department saw its budget cut by about one-third in 2011, Miller said, it has struggled to keep up with its duties. He noted that the department will collect an estimated $7.8 million less in fees and income from self-supporting programs than hoped in the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, and faces a huge backlog of work left over from his predecessor.

For example, there are nearly 2,000 cases involving suspected violations that haven’t been reviewed going back two years, according to department figures. Some $1.5 million in penalties that have been assessed has gone uncollected. And the agency has never once in its history inspected a taxicab meter, Miller said.

Read more: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/02/27/consumers-getting-screwed-says-new-ag-commissioner/

South Texas police chief arrested on 14 felony charges

A South Texas police chief has been indicted on 14 felony charges, months after being charged with official oppression.

John Chambers, Indian Lake Police Department chief, is charged with 14 counts of tampering with governmental records, according to a news release from the Cameron County District Attorney's Office.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges that Chambers knowingly made a false entry in a governmental record regarding firearms qualifications for some of his deputies.

Chambers was arrested Wednesday by investigators with the district attorney's office and Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, who each jointly conducted an investigation with the Texas Rangers.

The police chief was previously indicted on felony charges in August after he allegedly traveled outside of his jurisdiction to retrieve a truck for his wife's security company when a fired employee failed to return it, KGBT reported.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/local/article/South-Texas-police-chief-arrested-on-14-felony-6105268.php

Russian soccer stadiums a throwback to 1980s England

Watching a football match in Russia often carries echoes of the grim era of hooliganism in 1980s Britain.

There are crumbling stadiums, sparse crowds, clashes between hardcore fans and police, and despite a recent ban, often a pervasive smell of cigarette smoke.

Also, as shown Friday in a report by an anti-discrimination groupers, pervasive racism is directed against players and fans from ethnic minorities.

Of the 12 glittering new and refurbished arenas which will host the 2018 World Cup, many will replace dilapidated Soviet-era bowls which often lack basic facilities such as sufficient toilets, with little effort made to accommodate female fans and families.

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/nation-world/national/article11342345.html
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