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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: 85,760

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

Man accused in unlicensed virtual currency biz stays jailed

A judge has ruled that a leader of a libertarian group and self-described minister in New Hampshire will remain jailed on charges that he ran an unlicensed virtual currency exchange business, saying that he’s a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Ian Freeman, 40, of Keene, has pleaded not guilty to charges of participating in a conspiracy to operate the business; wire fraud; money laundering; operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise; and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

In her ruling late Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone said Freeman “has substantial financial resources.” He told court officers he gets $23,000 a month in income, and has $60,000 in a checking account.

FBI agents seized $178,000 from a bedroom safe. Among other assets, they identified about 28 Bitcoin — equivalent to about $1.6 million — that Freeman can access. The government indicated “these funds are almost impossible to trace and can be accessed anywhere,” Johnstone wrote.

Read more: https://www.concordmonitor.com/Man-accused-in-unlicensed-virtual-currency-biz-stays-jailed-39733423

Maine Republicans look to curb Janet Mills' emergency powers

The Maine Legislature is considering more than a dozen bills that would limit the duration and scope of the governor’s emergency powers.

The proposals are part of a Republican-led pushback on Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ use of an emergency declaration in response to the pandemic that just surpassed its one-year anniversary.

Republican state Sen. Lisa Keim, of Dixfield, told lawmakers on the State and Local Government Committee on Monday that even the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic are not justification for one-person decision-making.

“No matter the efficacy of top-down mandates, without the people’s alliance, no battle against an enemy seen or unseen can be victorious,” Keim said.

Read more: https://bangordailynews.com/2021/03/29/politics/maine-republicans-look-to-curb-janet-mills-emergency-powers/

Pets are dying because Maine doesn't have enough veterinarians

When Lorraine Monfils took in a dying 4-week-old puppy, her calls for help to veterinarians went unanswered.

“Nobody would take us,” Monfils said. “I called my vet in Canada and she tried to help. He died in my arms. It’s very sad …. It’s devastating. When an animal is dying, it’s horrifying. ”

Monfils runs the Ark Animal Sanctuary, a 40-acre animal refuge in Houlton. A Florenceville, New Brunswick, veterinarian has taken care of the Monfils’ animals since 2009. But when the border closed last year, she was left without a vet.

The Ark currently has 50 cats with special needs that require more medical attention. Over the last year, three cats died because there was no vet available to help. And even when her own dog had a stroke, Monfils had to drive two hours to the emergency vet practice in Brewer for care.

“It gives you a sinking feeling,” she said.

Read more: https://bangordailynews.com/2021/03/28/news/pets-are-dying-because-maine-doesnt-have-enough-veterinarians/

Power giant sues Maine over plan that could force removal of 4 Kennebec dams

AUGUSTA, Maine — The owner of four dams on the Kennebec River sued the state of Maine on Tuesday seeking to halt a plan backed by Gov. Janet Mills that could lead to the dams’ removal.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources is in the process of imposing stricter requirements for fish passage on four dams located in the lower part of the Kennebec River between Waterville and Skowhegan with the aim of restoring populations of sea-run fish, including the endangered Atlantic salmon. It recommends that a federal regulator decommission and remove two dams and that another two be studied for removal.

A U.S. subsidiary of Brookfield Renewable Partners, the massive Toronto-based company that owns the dams, has decried the process, arguing that Maine undersold the significance of the rulemaking and accusing Gov. Janet Mills of retaliating after her administration’s efforts to broker the sale of the dams failed. A public comment period for rulemaking closed on Friday.

Brookfield made a narrower case as it sued the Maine Department of Marine Resources in Kennebec County Superior Court on Tuesday, arguing state law requires the amendment process to go through Maine’s agricultural and energy offices as well.

Read more: https://bangordailynews.com/2021/03/30/politics/power-giant-sues-maine-over-plan-that-could-force-removal-of-4-kennebec-dams/

Bath shipyard looks for a new shipbuilding contract while awaiting the Navy's next ship

Bath Iron Works is calling for a new multi-year shipbuilding contract to support its business while it waits for the Navy to develop its next type of warship, according to the company’s State of the Business report sent to employees earlier this month.

The company has a backlog of 11 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and one Zumwalt-class destroyer to build in the six years, eight of which are under construction, BIW President Dirk Lesko wrote in the report. Despite its full schedule, BIW, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, needs additional ships to work on to pad the Navy’s transition to the next generation warship.

“Although planning is underway to transition to a new large surface combatant … that ship is not slated for construction until fiscal year 2027,” Lesko wrote in the report released March 16.

Large surface combatant is a collective term used to describe larger cruisers and destroyers.

Read more: https://www.pressherald.com/2021/03/30/bath-shipyard-looks-for-a-new-shipbuilding-contract-while-awaiting-the-navys-next-ship/

By taxing wealthiest 3%, lawmakers can help lift 92,000 Maine households out of poverty

The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, is a proven tool to reduce poverty and give kids from families with low incomes a better shot at success later in life. Maine lawmakers have a chance this year to strengthen the state’s EITC, boosting incomes for 92,000 Maine households.

LD 498 — sponsored by Rep. Mike Sylvester of Portland — would strengthen Maine’s EITC by increasing the credit by four to eight times its current value, depending on family size. That would bring Maine’s EITC in line with the federal credit.

The bill funds this investment in working families with a new 3% tax on income above $200,000. The tax would affect only the top 3.6% of households.

The EITC is a commonsense tax break for families who work

People who work hard should be able to afford the basics necessary to make ends meet, such as housing, food, health care, and child care. But low-wage jobs often mean families struggle to keep up with basic expenses.

Read more: https://mainebeacon.com/by-taxing-wealthiest-3-lawmakers-can-help-lift-92000-maine-households-out-of-poverty/

Taking threat of shutdown off the table, Legislature passes 'back-to-basics' budget

The Maine legislature passed Tuesday what Democrats are calling a “back-to-basics” biennial budget that party leaders say will provide Mainers with stability as the state continues to recover from the pandemic and prevent the possibility of a government shutdown that could halt crucial services.

The budget, which mirrors the spending plan passed by the legislature in 2019, was approved mostly along party lines. In initial votes, the House approved the measure 78-66 and the Senate voted in favor 21-13, with one Senate Democrat voting with Republicans against the budget. Subsequent enactment votes were passed 77-67 in the House and 20-14 in the Senate, with Sens. Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland) and Chloe Maxmin (D-Lincoln) joining Republicans in voting against the budget.

Because Republicans did not support the measure and it failed to receive two-thirds support, Democrats amended the budget to pass it by a simple majority. That means the legislature will have to adjourn in order for the spending plan to go into effect in 90 days.

After the votes Tuesday afternoon, Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford) said the legislature would attempt to call itself back for a special session after it adjourns. If Republicans block that effort, Jackson said Gov. Janet Mills will compel the legislature to return for a special session April 28. Jackson said all remaining bills will be carried over to that session.

Read more: https://mainebeacon.com/taking-threat-of-shutdown-off-the-table-legislature-passes-back-to-basics-budget/

Amid workplace safety concerns, bill seeks to expand whistleblower protections in Maine

During much of the pandemic, Heather Foran was a bartender at Timber Steakhouse in Portland. But that changed late last year when Foran said she was removed from the schedule after expressing concerns about the restaurant’s virus safety policies.

Throughout the pandemic, Foran said the owner created a culture that was dismissive of the dangers of the virus, with people often not wearing masks prior to shifts or in the kitchen and only putting face coverings on when interacting with customers. That attitude came to a head in November when her two fellow bartenders both called out sick with COVID-19 symptoms at a time when Foran said the virus was known to be spreading around the Old Port area. Foran said one of the bartenders had recently been to places with positive cases while the other bartender’s girlfriend worked at a restaurant that had seen virus cases.

Foran said the owner told her to come into work early to fill in. She was uneasy with the situation. “I basically told him, ‘I don’t feel comfortable about this. I don’t think we should be open,’” Foran recalled.

The owner initially said he couldn’t make her come in if she didn’t feel comfortable, Foran said. But a couple days later, Foran said he took her off the work schedule, telling her that he couldn’t have people working who were scared to come in. He told her they could talk in a few weeks about the situation. But Foran said he never reached out again, and Foran also decided she didn’t want to work for him.

Read more: https://mainebeacon.com/amid-workplace-safety-concerns-bill-seeks-to-expand-whistleblower-protections-in-maine/

They Just Moved Into an Austin Neighborhood. Now They Want to End One of Its Traditions.

Car clubs have gathered for decades at “Chicano Park” in the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood. But residents of a new luxury apartment building have started calling the police to stop them.

The fleet of several dozen cars pulled into East Austin’s Fiesta Gardens, or “Chicano Park” as locals call it, on a recent weekend with the booming of powerful stereo systems announcing their arrival. After a few loops around the park, some drivers—most of them Black and Latino men in their twenties and thirties driving customized lowriders, bright, candy-colored slabs, and jacked-up trucks with flashy chrome rims—packed into a nearby middle school parking lot. Some unloaded barbecue grills, toddlers, and pit bulls, then cracked open beers, and blasted Texas hip-hop and Tejano music. Others joined a slow-moving carousel that flowed from the parking lot into the street and back again, swerving from side to side and occasionally screeching their tires, unleashing plumes of white smoke that covered the block in a light haze.

Some variation of this assembly has taken place nearly every Sunday afternoon since the early nineties. But now many residents of The Weaver, a newly built luxury apartment building across the street—whose website promises renters access to a “community that is rich in history and tradition”—have decided it’s time for the weekly event to come to an unceremonious end. Some of the building’s residents defend the car club gatherings and note they predate The Weaver residents’ arrival in the neighborhood, but many others have grown tired of the loud music, annoyed by the traffic, and turned off by the smell of skidding tires. One particularly vocal tenant, a non-Hispanic white woman with short blond hair who appeared to be in her fifties and refused to give her name, claimed that smoke from the tires was killing nearby trees and that traffic from the gathering would make it impossible for an ambulance to reach her in the event of a medical emergency (though two other roads to the apartment building remain accessible at all times). Another Weaver resident voiced more generalized criticism, calling the event a “display of toxic masculinity.”

“[W]e should shut this thing down,” a third resident, who blamed the lack of police response on the “idiotic” city council’s decision to slash the Austin Police Department’s budget, wrote in March on a building forum. Indeed, at a recent gathering, a non-Hispanic white tenant had flagged two police vehicles and pleaded with officers to disband the celebration, calling it “scary.” The officers eventually drove off without taking any action. Even though the event sometimes violates noise and traffic ordinances, it doesn’t pose major threats to anyone in The Weaver, nor does it break other city rules.

By the Sunday I went to the park, the building had posted a security guard in the driveway in response to growing outrage among its residents, and concerns for their safety. Several angry residents gathered near him. A few threatened to call the police. A frustrated woman from Chicago who said she winters in Austin and would not be renewing her lease wondered aloud about the financial toll the gathering would exact upon The Weaver, which is owned by Greystar Real Estate Partners, an international developer based in Charleston, S.C. (The regional manager who oversees Greystar’s Austin properties did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.)

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/news-politics/austin-car-clubs-gentrification/

Simone Biles on the Tokyo Olympics and the Outrageously Difficult Vault She Might Try There

She’s been practicing a Yurchenko double pike—a technique no woman has ever landed in competition.

A year ago this month, the countdown clock to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was halted and then reset because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, once again, we’re just about four months out from an Olympic Games that, should they go off as planned in late July, will look different from all that came before. The athletes will still travel to Japan from all over the world, but the spectators will not; as organizers announced last week, only Japanese fans will be allowed to attend the games.

This means that when Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history, takes her victory lap at the games, there will be fewer people watching her do it live. Biles, who holds the record for most world championship medals in gymnastics, has repeatedly asserted that these Olympics will be her last. This is a hard pill for fans, the media, and even those closest to her to swallow, since Biles’s ability hardly seems to be on the wane; in fact, she’s gotten better and even more dominant since her Olympic triumphs in Rio.

But Biles, who just turned 24, intends to retire from the sport after competing in Tokyo, and she’ll arguably leave it in a better place than when she arrived on the senior elite scene in 2013. She has pushed the technical boundaries of women’s gymnastics forward, pioneering new skills previously thought impossible: the double-double beam dismount and the triple-twisting double somersault on floor exercise, to name just two. Biles has also modeled how to be an advocate on behalf of herself and other gymnasts. Even while still competing on behalf of USA Gymnastics, she’s been a vocal critic of the organization that enabled former team physician Larry Nassar to sexually abuse her and at least 264 other women and girls.

Texas Monthly spoke with Biles, who lives and trains in Spring, about the postponed Olympics, the radical new skill she’s been working on, and learning to speak up publicly about her beliefs.

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/arts-entertainment/simone-biles-on-the-tokyo-olympics-and-the-outrageously-difficult-vault-she-might-try-there/
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