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TexasTowelie

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 76,959

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

Dark matter even darker than once thought

Dark matter is a giant question mark looming over our knowledge of the Universe. There is more dark matter in the Universe than visible matter, but it is extremely elusive; it does not reflect, absorb or emit light, making it invisible. Because of this, it is only known to exist via its gravitational effects on the visible Universe (see e.g. heic1215a).

To learn more about this mysterious substance, researchers can study it in a way similar to experiments on visible matter — by watching what happens when it bumps into things [1]. For this reason, researchers look at vast collections of galaxies, called galaxy clusters, where collisions involving dark matter happen naturally and where it exists in vast enough quantities to see the effects of collisions [2].

Galaxies are made of three main ingredients: stars, clouds of gas and dark matter. During collisions, the clouds of gas spread throughout the galaxies crash into each other and slow down or stop. The stars are much less affected by the drag from the gas [3] and, because of the huge gaps between them, do not have a slowing effect on each other — though if two stars did collide the frictional forces would be huge.

"We know how gas and stars react to these cosmic crashes and where they emerge from the wreckage. Comparing how dark matter behaves can help us to narrow down what it actually is," explains David Harvey of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, lead author of a new study.

Read more: http://www.spacetelescope.org/news/heic1506/

Central Banks Warn: Liquidity May Evaporate When Investors Finally Remove Blindfolds

Companies are selling bonds like madmen. This year through Tuesday, investment-grade and junk-rated companies have sold $438 billion in new bonds, up 14% from the prior record for this time of the year, set in 2013, according to Dealogic. This quarter is already in second place, nudging up against the all-time quarterly record of $455 billion of Q2 2014.

About $87 billion of these bonds funded takeovers, a record for this time of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The four biggest bond sales in that batch were for healthcare takeovers, including the Actavis deal whose $21 billion bond sale was the second largest in history, behind Verizon’s $49 billion bond sale in 2013.

Actavis had received orders for more than four times the bonds available, according to CFO Tessa Hilado. “You don’t really know what the demand is until people start placing their orders,” she said. “I would say we were pleasantly surprised.”

Brandon Swensen, co-head of U.S. fixed income at RBC Global Asset Management, couldn’t “see anything on the radar that’s going to slow things down materially,” he told the Wall Street Journal. His firm expects rates to “remain low.”

Read more: http://wolfstreet.com/2015/03/27/bond-market-liquidity-risk-central-bank-warnings/

American men move up ranks in free skate

Rank Name Nation Total SP FS
1 Javier Fernández Spain 273.90 2 92.74 2 181.16
2 Yuzuru Hanyu Japan 271.08 1 95.20 3 175.88
3 Denis Ten Kazakhstan 267.72 3 85.89 1 181.83
4 Jason Brown United States 248.29 6 84.32 5 163.97
5 Nam Nguyen Canada 242.59 9 77.73 4 164.86
6 Misha Ge Uzbekistan 234.89 8 78.52 7 156.37
7 Maxim Kovtun Russia 242.59 16 70.82 6 159.88
8 Adam Rippon United States 229.71 11 75.14 8 154.57
9 Florent Amodio France 229.62 7 80.84 11 148.78
10 Han Yan China 229.15 5 84.45 13 144.70
11 Joshua Farris United States 223.04 13 73.52 10 149.52
12 Takahito Kozuka Japan 222.69 19 70.15 9 146.81
13 Sergei Voronov Russia 218.41 4 84.70 17 133.71
14 Ronald Lam Hong Kong 214.36 14 72.66 14 141.70
15 Michal Brezina Czech Republic 213.83 10 76.84 15 136.99
16 Takahito Mura Japan 211.74 23 64.93 12 146.81
17 Alexei Bychenko Israel 209.26 12 74.98 16 137.28
18 Chafik Besseghier France 199.86 18 70.27 19 129.59
19 June Hyoung Lee South Korea 197.52 24 64.51 18 133.01
20 Brendan Kerry Australia 194.57 17 70.36 21 124.21
21 Michael Christian Martinez Philippines 192.38 22 67.03 20 125.35
22 Jeremy Ten Canada 183.79 15 72.28 22 111.51
23 Alaxander Majorov Sweden 176.55 21 67.53 23 109.02
24 Yaroslav Paniot Ukraine 174.52 20 69.09 24 105.43

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_World_Figure_Skating_Championships

American women find redemption in free skate

Gracie Gold had a seasons best performance and all three American women managed to avoid any deductions in their long programs with Gold taking second in the free skate and Wagner taking third in the free skate. Unfortunately, they gave up too much ground in the short program in order to medal. However, they will retain three positions next year in the world championships.

Pl. Name Nation Points SP FS
1 Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA
RUS 210.36 1 1
2 Satoko MIYAHARA
JPN 193.60 3 4
3 Elena RADIONOVA
RUS 191.47 2 6
4 Gracie GOLD
USA 188.96 8 2
5 Ashley WAGNER
USA 185.01 11 3

6 Rika HONGO
JPN 184.58 5 5
7 Kanako MURAKAMI
JPN 179.66 4 8
8 Polina EDMUNDS
USA 177.83 7 7

9 Zijun LI
CHN 165.22 6 11
10 Mae Berenice MEITE
FRA 162.75 12 10
11 Alaine CHARTRAND
CAN 161.18 10 12
12 So Youn PARK
KOR 160.75 15 9
13 Anna POGORILAYA
RUS 160.31 9 13
14 Joshi HELGESSON
SWE 155.35 13 14
15 Nicole RAJICOVA
SVK 152.61 14 15
16 Angelina KUCHVALSKA
LAT 141.54 23 16
17 Anne Line GJERSEM
NOR 139.75 20 17
18 Dasa GRM
SLO 137.45 22 18
19 Hae Jin KIM
KOR 136.24 18 19
20 Roberta RODEGHIERO
ITA 134.74 17 21
21 Gabrielle DALEMAN
CAN 133.57 21 20
22 Elene GEDEVANISHVILI
GEO 132.25 16 22
23 Nicole SCHOTT
GER 127.56 19 23
24 Giada RUSSO
ITA 120.11 24 24

http://www.isuresults.com/results/wc2015/SEG004.HTM

Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki now belongs to a 'weird' one-member club

Dirk Nowitzki on being the founding member of the 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 1,000 blocks, 1,000 3-pointers club:

“That’s a weird club, obviously. With one weirdo in it. That usually means that big guys like that are not shot-blockers like me.”

Turning serious, he added: “I don’t know what that means. A big guy doesn’t usually shoot 1,000 3s, so there are some with 25,000 points and 10,000 rebounds, but those big guys don’t usually step out. That’s been my strength my whole career.”

http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-mavericks/headlines/20150326-mavericks-dirk-nowitzki-now-belongs-to-a-weird-one-member-club.ece

Texas Legislature’s Voucher Hearings: Nine Hours of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By Carol Morgan

There was a lot of money riding on today’s hearings in the Senate’s Education Committee, not to mention the future of 5,151,925 public school students in Texas.

Four bills, three of which were discussed today, represent just how powerful educational corporations have become and how influential they are in Tea Party Republican circles. They donate heavily to conservative campaigns with the full expectation of bending the will of Texas legislators.

SB 4 by Senator Larry Craig, R-Friendswood, and SB 642 by Senator Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, proposed to give tax breaks to corporations that donate to organizations who then provide scholarships to private and religious schools. That money would be diverted from cash-strapped public schools.

SB 276 by Senator Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, and SB 1178 by Senator Don Huffines, R-Dallas, would create so-called “taxpayer savings grants” which would shift a large share of state and federal funding for a public school student over to subsidizing tuition at a private or religious school instead.

These four Senators can dress up these bills with all the lipstick and right wing rhetoric they like, but they’re nothing more than a back door route to vouchers.

Yes, of course, the cheerleaders of this movement call it “school choice”, but it’s not much of a choice for students and parents, when the private schools and charters are allowed to “choose” the students who can attend. Public schools don’t have that luxury.

The hearings lasted a very long nine hours and finally ended with no decision; more kicking the can down the road. The pro-vouchers will retreat, regroup, and reload with a different strategy, but so will those who stand for public education.

The testimony ranged from absurd (the home school father who wants a voucher for himself) to fact-bending to blatant falsehoods. The voucher crowd may have had James Leininger and Phil Gramm (the former Senator who enjoys crashing things like schools and the world economy), but the public school advocates were equally articulate.

Raise Your Hand Texas, a non-profit that advocates for public education, gave this definition of vouchers: Vouchers are government subsidies of private schools, funded by taxpayer money, without the accountability of public schools. Vouchers are not a solution. They are a distraction. RYHT Director, Dr. David Anthony educated the committee on the fact that Texas already has ISD’s that provide school choice and listed the programs in Grand Prairie, Houston, Garland and San Antonio’s Northside.

The group Pastors for Texas Children (whose executive director is Charles Foster Johnson, the former pastor at Lubbock’s Second Baptist Church) was fearless in their defense of public education. This group’s done a remarkable job of trying to keep state and church separated, especially education.

Some of those who testified and the Senators who chose to comment or question, had their facts wrong or they just flat-out lied during the hearing.

Phil Gramm claimed that 40% of Texas students drop out, when the real truth was right on the TEA website: The Texas drop-out rate for 7-12 grade is 1.6%.

Senator Van Taylor, a member of the Senate Education Committee, lied to everyone in the room, claiming that no state who’d implemented vouchers had any regrets.

I’m unware of the sources he used for that bold assertion, but plenty of states regret implementing vouchers. North Carolina is full of remorse over their foray with vouchers. The North Carolina policy watch discovered that their state voucher program was nothing more than a pathway to fraud and abuse.

When vouchers were issued in Arizona, did it help the poor kids in failing schools? Nope. 70% of Arizona’s vouchers went to students who were previously enrolled in private religious schools before the state’s voucher initiative was even passed.

Quality education? Take a look at the crazy curriculum in Louisiana's voucher schools.

Milwaukee recently recognized 25 years of vouchers and officials there claim they see no difference at all in student performance.

[link:http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/carol-morgan/2015-03-27/%3A%20http%3A/www.politico.com/story/2013/10/vouchers-dont-do-much-for-students-97909.html%20%E2%80%A6|U.S. taxpayers are spending $1 billion a year for voucher programs and there’s scant evidence that it's helped.
]
Even the private schools DON'T want vouchers. Latest Gallup poll shows that 63% of the public doesn’t want school vouchers either.

It seems the only people who desire vouchers are the educational management corporations and the Tea Party Senators who receive donations from those educational corporations. If you don’t think the two are intimately intertwined, consider this: James Leininger was given hours to testify today and the Texas President for the American Federation of Teachers was granted a generous two minutes.

Some of you may be asking James WHO? San Antonio physician and hospital-bed magnate James Leininger is one of the most generous funders of far-right causes in Texas. He’s donated millions of dollars to state political leaders in support of his efforts to create a publicly funded private school voucher program in Texas.

He’s donated a total of $20,000 to Senator Donna Campbell and he’s Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s largest donor, donating close to $200,000. He’s known in political circles as the “Sugar Daddy” of Texas’ Religious Right. He’s invested a lot of money in buying these two pro-voucher politicians and expects to get a return on his money.

It’s take a lot of guts for the Legislature to criticize the very schools that they helped to create by insufficient funding, changing the passing bar on testing year after year, and eliminating teachers. It seems as if the Tea Party Legislators have a willful desire to get Texas schools to fail.

But are Texas schools really failing? George P. Bush claims that a majority of Texas students are “trapped” in failing public education, but Politifact rated his claim as “false”, while Senator Jose Rodriguez offered hard data (not just opinionated rhetoric) that 96% of public schools met accountability standards last year while only 61% of charters did.

If anything, Texas’ failing schools are the metric of child poverty in Texas. It’s common knowledge that the single most important factor in educational success or failure is the socioeconomic level of the student. Texas has repeatedly held a place on the Annie E. Casey’s list of “10 Worst States to be a Child” and there are 1,742,000 (or 25%) children in poverty in Texas. We have 96% of all schools meeting accountability. You do the math to find the ratio.

There are 13 states that employ vouchers; all of them have different requirements and target different student groups. You will see little or no difference in the educational progress of those who use vouchers and those who attend public schools. And here’s more data that shows that public beats private in almost all categories.

Despite all this proof, there are some who will contend that we shouldn’t “throw more money” at public education. Why? Texas students are certainly not going to perform better with less money and public education will suffer greatly if more money is taken away in the form of vouchers. Education will fail.

But that’s Dan Patrick’s ulterior motive for pushing vouchers, isn’t it?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Carol Morgan is a career/college counselor, a freelance writer, and former Democratic candidate for the Texas House. She is the award-winning author of two books: Of Tapestry, Time and Tears and Liberal in Lubbock. Email Carol at elizabethcmorgan@sbcglobal.net , follow her on Twitter and on Facebook or visit her writer’s blog at www.carolmorgan.org

http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/carol-morgan/2015-03-27/texas-legislature%E2%80%99s-voucher-hearings-nine-hours-good-bad#.VRYqkuHy3SI

Permission granted to post Carol's blog in its entirety.

Keller Texas High School Bars Lesbian Student From Making Adorable 'Promposal' To Another Girl

A lesbian teenager in Texas says her high school refused to allow her to make a "promposal" to another girl.

Promposals, apparently a tradition at Timber Creek High School in Keller, near Fort Worth, are dramatic, public invitations to prom between students.

Casey Akers, 16, planned to jump out of a box with flowers on it holding cookies and a sign that said, "Out of all these cookies, you're my favorite one. Prom?" The name of the girl Akers planned to invite to the prom is Cookie.

Akers said she got approval for the promposal from school administrators — until they found out she was inviting another girl. NBCDFW.com reports:

"I gave them all the details before. They say it’s fine. They find out who I am asking, then say it’s not fine," Akers said.

Akers sent a direct message about what happened to a friend on Twitter. Akers' friend who tweeted a screenshot of the message — with Casey’s permission — and it didn’t take long for the hash-tag campaign #LetCaseyPromposal to take off.

“People are tweeting me from all over the U.S.," Akers said. "I had someone tweet from Toronto, Canada. This is spreading like crazy, and all I want to do is get the word out.”


Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/2015/03/texas-school-bars-lesbian-student-from-making-adorable-promposal-to-another-girl.html#.VRWpqzjiUIA.twitter

Cross-posted in the LGBT Group.

Keller Texas High School Bars Lesbian Student From Making Adorable 'Promposal' To Another Girl

A lesbian teenager in Texas says her high school refused to allow her to make a "promposal" to another girl.

Promposals, apparently a tradition at Timber Creek High School in Keller, near Fort Worth, are dramatic, public invitations to prom between students.

Casey Akers, 16, planned to jump out of a box with flowers on it holding cookies and a sign that said, "Out of all these cookies, you're my favorite one. Prom?" The name of the girl Akers planned to invite to the prom is Cookie.

Akers said she got approval for the promposal from school administrators — until they found out she was inviting another girl. NBCDFW.com reports:

"I gave them all the details before. They say it’s fine. They find out who I am asking, then say it’s not fine," Akers said.

Akers sent a direct message about what happened to a friend on Twitter. Akers' friend who tweeted a screenshot of the message — with Casey’s permission — and it didn’t take long for the hash-tag campaign #LetCaseyPromposal to take off.

“People are tweeting me from all over the U.S.," Akers said. "I had someone tweet from Toronto, Canada. This is spreading like crazy, and all I want to do is get the word out.”


Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/2015/03/texas-school-bars-lesbian-student-from-making-adorable-promposal-to-another-girl.html#.VRWpqzjiUIA.twitter

Cross-posted in the Texas Group.

DOJ files lien against construction contractor for $40M restitution (bank and bankruptcy fraud)

HARLINGEN — A man’s fortunes could change, and the Department of Justice is banking that jailed former Harlingen contractor Mitchell Kent Sweezy would amass property to satisfy restitution of slightly more than $40 million to some of his victims.

By law, the Department of Justice has to file a lien against Sweezy’s property to continue until the liability is satisfied, set aside, or it becomes unenforceable after Nov. 15, 2037 — which is 20 years plus the seven year sentence he received on Nov. 15, 2010.

-snip-

Sweezy, now 63, is serving his seven-year sentence at the federal correctional institution in Big Spring and his release date is Feb. 28, 2017, other public records reflect. He was tried and sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Brownsville before U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen.

As noted by the United States Attorney’s Office at the time, Sweezy was the CEO of Sweezy Construction Inc. (SCI) and Hanen sentenced him to seven years in federal prison and ordered him to pay $40,206,054 in restitution for conspiring to commit bank fraud and bankruptcy fraud, along with other defendants and business entities.

Read more: http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/local_news/article_74dbaa6c-d433-11e4-855e-9fa3d9196a56.html

Dallas mayoral candidate Richard Sheridan arrested for June 2014 ‘666’ taggings (anti-gay vandalism)


Richard Sheridan in his mug shot taken at 4:02 p.m. today (Dallas County Sheriff)



Nine months after someone tagged a dozen locations — including the Legacy of Love Monument at Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn, the Cathedral of Hope near Dallas Love Field, Dallas City Hall and The Dallas Morning News — with a red “666,” Dallas police say a grand jury has indicted the man they suspected all along: perennial Dallas mayoral candidate Richard Sheridan.

Assistant Dallas Police Chief Randy Blankenbaker says Sheridan has been indicted, arrested and charged with vandalizing the Legacy of Love Monument and the Cathedral of Hope. The graffiti charge is a state jail felony, says Blankenbaker, but if it’s proved he selected those locations because of their “significance to the LGBT community,” that charge may be upgraded to a third-degree felony.

Says Blankenbaker, Sheridan is not being charged with the 10 other instances of graffiti “at this time.” He says “significant” time was spent on this investigation, and the two cases that led to Sheridan’s indictment and arrest were the best cases.

In August, police told The Dallas Morning News that Sheridan was the only person who’d been questioned in the case. Sheridan maintained he didn’t do it: “I’m not guilty, I’m not guilty, I’m not guilty,” he told our Tristan Hallman on August 14 in the lobby of Dallas police headquarters. But Sheridan said he knew who did — and that he agreed with the tags. He also said that despite what police were saying, the tags were “not a hate crime {but} an act of love — and a warning.”

Read more: http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/2015/03/dallas-mayoral-candidate-richard-sheridan-arrested-for-june-2014-666-taggings.html

Related threads:

Dallas “666” anti-gay tagging suspect says they are ‘act of love,’ but blames another person Texas Group
http://www.democraticunderground.com/107820144

Dallas “666” anti-gay tagging suspect says they are ‘act of love,’ but blames another person LGBT Group
http://www.democraticunderground.com/113739798

Dallas police release description of suspect who tagged 11 sites with '666' in anti-gay hate crime
http://www.democraticunderground.com/107819381

Cross-posted in the LGBT Group.
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