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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: 76,960

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

Texas Enterprise Fund will grant $40 million to Toyota

The state of Texas is giving a $40 million grant to Toyota through the Texas Enterprise Fund, according to a statement issued today by Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s office.

The grant is based on Toyota’s commitment to generate about 4,000 jobs and invest $300 million in Plano for a new consolidated headquarters. Toyota also is seeking local financial incentives.

“Toyota understands that Texas’ employer-friendly combination of low taxes, fair courts, smart regulations and world-class workforce can help businesses of any size succeed and thrive,” Perry said in the statement.

Toyota already employs 2,900 people at manufacturing plan in San Antonio.

More at http://bizbeatblog.dallasnews.com/2014/04/texas-enterprise-fund-will-grant-40-million-to-toyota.html/ .

Man pleads guilty to bomb threats at Jewish synagogues in Houston

The phone message left at a Houston synagogue with a school was ominous: "If you don't stop and tell your students the truth, we will be forced to bomb your facility."

Nearly a year to the day after the threat to blow up two Jewish congregations here, Dante Phearse pleaded guilty in federal court Monday.

He faces up to 20 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole for obstructing persons from the exercise of their religious beliefs and using a phone to make his violent threat.

The April 30, 2013 message and others touched off a investigation by Houston police and the FBI to catch the culprit, as well as evacuate two local temples.

More at http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Man-pleads-guilty-to-bomb-threats-at-Jewish-5435657.php .

Worker's Benefits Cut Off Two Decades Later

For more than two decades since sustaining a serious workplace injury, former refinery worker Mark Umphrey of Nederland has relied on the Texas Workers' Compensation system to deliver and pay for his medical care.

Then, suddenly his insurance carrier cut off the benefits. Now, after inquiries from The Texas Tribune, the state's Division of Workers' Compensation, which falls under the Texas Department of Insurance, said it is investigating a complaint filed by Umphrey’s lawyer.

A few weeks ago, Umphrey's doctor told him his Pennsylvania-based insurance carrier had quit paying for his medical care. The Insurance Company of North America previously acknowledged Umphrey had sustained a valid work-related injury, and over the years the carrier had paid for two surgeries to repair his back, plus follow-ups and medication for his chronic pain, records and interviews with Umphrey indicate.

But in a Feb. 1 letter, an insurance adjuster told Umphrey that a new doctor had determined his injury wasn’t that serious after all. Instead of a serious condition requiring surgery, he actually sustained a nasty back sprain all those years ago, the insurer determined.

More at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/04/28/workers-benefits-cut-two-decades-later/ .

[font color=green]For those unfamiliar with insurance companies, The Insurance Company of North America is part of the Cigna Insurance Group.

I have a friend that faced some of the same BS from a work-related injury decades ago, again by Cigna.

If you are employed in Texas, your employer is required to prominently post their workers compensation insurer or if they elected not to have workers compensation insurance coverage. Those notices are usually posted with other information such as Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board notices.[/font]

San Antonio Madison High School lockdown lifted, armed student arrested

SAN ANTONIO — Police took a Madison High School student into custody Monday morning after weapons were found in his backpack.

By noon, the lockdown had been lifted.

The male student, 17, had three loaded guns and a 12-inch knife, said Aubrey Chancellor, a spokeswoman for North East Independent School District. One of the guns was an AK-47, one was a 45-millimeter and one was a .22 cailber, Chancellor said. The student had additional magazines in his backpack, she added.

It is unknown whether he was planning a mass shooting, but Chancellor said he told district police that he intended to make some demands over the intercom system, although she did not know what those were. He told authorities that “if the demands were not met, he had planned on committing violence,” Chancellor said. She did not know whether he had a history of violence or mental health issues.

More at http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Madison-High-School-lockdown-lifted-armed-5435172.php .

OMG, look what I done--with a note of thanks to Friday night DUers.

On Friday night I made a post asking for people to help respond to a conservative meme:

Please help me respond to some conservative dribble

I aggregated the responses into a reply on Saturday night as follows:

[font color=green]Well Marcus,

I find it amusing that you posted a picture of Hong Kong, a city in the People’s Republic of China (where communism is in effect) to support your notions. There are other countries that favor socialism and have economies that are as strong and as vibrant as the United States such as Canada, Germany, Denmark and Norway.

By the way, socialism doesn’t mean taking wealth from people who work hard and giving it to people who don’t—you’re thinking of capitalism! Capitalism redistributes wealth; however, it allows for fewer people to have wealth so that only a few control everything. Capitalism relies on people being uneducated and working against their personal needs. It needs people to believe that they can all be super rich if they work hard enough and spend their whole lives slaving away. So yes capitalism works—for a few. How long do you think you would survive if you were not employed?

Capitalism has not been around since 4,000 B.C. Capitalism started in the Middle Ages in Europe. Before that, people in the ancient world didn't have banks and didn't invest capital in business. The banks they did have were involved in collecting taxes and religious tithes, not in investment capital. In some instances they were privately owned by the monarchy. The only form of capitalism that predated European capitalism is merchant capitalism in the 9th century by those evil terrorist Muslims.

By the way, how are you enjoying the weekend--provided to you courtesy of the evil slavery-pushing labor movement?[/font]

I awoke to this response from Marcus:

[font color=blue]You may recall that Hong Kong only became part of the Peoples Republic of China 1997. To quote Wikipedia, "On 1 July 1997, Hong Kong became the first Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, under the principle of "one country, two systems" (the other, Macau, attained that status in December 1999). It has a different political system from mainland China.(21) ". So while Hong Kong is part of the Chinese Empire, it is not a communist economy.

While I respect your comments and chose to publish them, you may want to dial down the arrogance a tad and get your facts straight.

You might also want to enlighten us all as to where you think the money that governments spend (all governments) comes from.

Marcus Lockard [/font]

Well, of course I had to continue our friendly discourse:

[font color=green]I am merely pointing out the error in the meme that you posted. Capitalism has not funded all other -isms since 4,000 B.C. because capitalism didn't exist at that time--unless you are trying to equate capitalism with slavery.

Was feudalism funded by capitalism? Feudalistic societies were structured around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour, and were sometimes tantamount to slavery.[/font]

To which Marcus responded:

[font color=blue]You are right the term capitalism evolved in the 18th and 19th centuries and
Feudalistic societies were structured as you say above. Neither were "technically" capitalism because the term had not been coined. But the concepts of capitalism, exchanging service (working the land) for a "payment' a place for your family to live and food for them, is the essence of capitalism in its purist form.

Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work, while being held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation.

The fact that some Europeans, Africans and early Americans owned slaves was wrong but slavery is not a tenant of capitalism, it is simply a horrible system that should be stopped around the world.

All that said, I am happy to continue this dialog/debate/discussion but not unless you identify yourself, as I have done. I will no longer publish anonymous comments on this blog. [/font]

Well Marcus has already done a great job disavowing the meme that he posted.

I haven't decided whether to compose another response; however, I also know that there are other great minds on DU that would be happy to assist so I plea for you to indulge me once more. BTW, his Website allows for comments to be posted as "anonymous" so if he doesn't want comments from those who choose anonymity, then he should remove that option.


Should Marx and Engels be copyrighted?

The UK publisher Lawrence & Wishart has instructed the Marxist Internet Archive (MIA) to remove material from the Marx-Engels Collected Works (MECW) from its website by the end of this month (just in time for International Workers' Day on May 1). As Andrew Leonard asks at Salon, quoting the introduction to Volume 1 of MECW, 'I wonder — just how angry would Karl Marx get if he learned that the publisher of his collected works, in the name of maximizing profits, was using copyright law to hinder the cause of “equipping the working-class movement with the scientific ideology… for the realization… of communism”?' The publisher has justified its decision here. MIA has responded here. You can sign a petition protesting this outrageous decision here.


Texas ag commissioner candidate Friedman sees money in hogs

SAN ANTONIO — A flamboyant figure in Texas politics who is running for the post of agriculture commissioner said the state could boost revenue, create jobs and hedge against the rising cost of meat by expanding its hog-harvesting program.

Best known as a singer and humorist, Kinky Friedman described the state’s fast-growing boar population as an untapped industry, according to the San Antonio-Express News.

He faces insurance agent Jim Hogan in a Democratic runoff election May 27, his third run for statewide office.

“If you are going to kill a bunch of feral hogs, let’s at least do it for a profit and business for the state,” Friedman said, adding that the meat tastes “quite good.”

More at http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2014-04-27/texas-ag-commissioner-candidate-friedman-sees-money-hogs .

Seven injured after explosion at Texas plywood plant

Source: Houston Chronicle

Seven employees and one volunteer firefighter were injured in an explosion at a Georgia-Pacific lumber plant in Corrigan, about 20 miles north of Livingstone in Polk County.

Corrigan police say the call came in just after 6 p.m. Saturday that there had been a blast at the plant that produces plywood about 100 miles northeast of Houston.

Four medical helicopters and three ambulances were sent to the scene to pick up the injured. It's thought three were in critical condition, with a Corrigan Fire Department spokesperson reporting that the situation was "very bad."

The most seriously injured were brought to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/texas/article/Seven-injured-after-explosion-at-Texas-plywood-5433334.php

ETA: This is a Georgia Pacific plant owned by the Koch brothers.

Second Edit: From KHOU.com -- According to firefighters, there was a problem with a sawdust collection system and the dust caught fire.

Tax law leads to towering savings for big-building owners

Ron Baselice/Staff Photographer

The owners of Williams Square in Irving’s Las Colinas purchased the office complex in 2012 for $226 million, then persuaded a judge to reduce the taxable value to $147 million. As a result, the company could save more than $3.5 million in taxes annually.

After a big real estate deal in Dallas County, the legal maneuvering has almost become routine: A company that just spent millions of dollars on a commercial property then argues, for tax reasons, that it grossly overpaid.

That’s what happened with Williams Square in Las Colinas. An Atlanta investment firm bought the office complex in 2012 for $226 million. Then its lawyers went to work. After more than a year of legal wrangling, they persuaded a judge to reduce the taxable value of Williams Square to $147 million. That could save the company more than $3.5 million in taxes annually.

Such a result may be startling to homeowners who see their appraised values rise year after year. But it’s nothing new to the owners of some of the area’s largest buildings. They’ve been successfully challenging their appraisals for years, aided by a provision of state law that was written by a prominent property tax attorney.

In 2013, commercial property owners in Dallas County shaved more than $4.8 billion off preliminary tax appraisals, according to data analyzed by The Dallas Morning News. That’s more than seven times the reduction secured by residential property owners.

Commercial property owners and their consultants say they’re simply working to make the property tax system fair. But many appraisal districts and local governments believe the opposite is happening. They say the wealthiest property owners are receiving major breaks, while the tax burden for homeowners climbs.

More at http://www.dallasnews.com/business/business-headlines/20140426-tax-law-leads-to-towering-savings-for-big-building-owners.ece .

[font color=green]I used to work in the tower on the left. The tax break that Williams Square received may be an underlying reason why the rental rates at apartment complexes in Irving are going through the roof. This is another example of corporate welfare.[/font]

For Energy Future Holdings (aka TXU) , a colossal collapse but limited pain for buyout’s architects

When Energy Future Holdings files for bankruptcy, the two private equity firms that engineered the $45 billion buyout of the former TXU Corp. are expected to see their stake reduced to virtually nothing.

But what might be devastating for other financial firms has done little damage to KKR & Co.’s and TPG’s positions as the private equity titans of Wall Street.

According to experts and private equity insiders, the two firms managed to minimize the hit to their balance sheets and reputations through a strategy to shrink their exposure and that of their investors if the 2007 buyout went south.

The firms put only a fraction of their own money into the deal. They collected hundreds of millions in fees along the way. And their investors made money even when losses at EFH started piling up.

More at http://www.dallasnews.com/business/energy/20140426-for-efh-a-colossal-collapse-but-limited-pain-for-buyouts-architects.ece .

[font color=green]Goldman Sachs and Berkshire Hathaway are among the losers.[/font]
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