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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: 77,784

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

Andrea Yates' ex-husband tells Oprah wife didn't deserve 'cruelest' murder trial

Thirteen years after a jury convicted Andrea Yates of capital murder for drowning her five children in the bathtub, her ex-husband says putting her on trial was an act of cruelty.

"I know some people are going to hear this and think it's crazy, but, to me, trying her, it was the single cruelest thing I've ever personally witnessed," he told Oprah Winfrey during an interview on Where Are They Now? "Her actions were completely a result of her illness."

The episode is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. central time Saturday on the OWN Network.

Andrea Yates was sentenced to life in prison in March 2002 after being convicted in the June 20, 2001, drowning deaths of Noah, 7; John, 5; Paul, 3; Luke 2; and Mary, 6 months.

Read more: http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/neighborhood/bayarea/crime-courts/article/Andrea-Yates-ex-husband-tells-Oprah-wife-didnt-de-6221725.php

Texas Republicans Are Still Trying to Chip Away at Abortion Rights

Last session, the GOP-dominated Legislature successfully decimated abortion access across the state. We're still waiting on the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to make a decision on the legal challenge to HB 2, which Wendy Davis famously filibustered before Rick Perry called a second special session to pass the bill, ushering in sweeping restrictions that have already closed more than half of abortion clinics in Texas.

Depending on how things shake out at the Fifth Circuit, there could soon be as few as eight abortion clinics for a state of 27 million people. About one million Texas women would live at least 150 miles away from the nearest abortion provider, effectively cutting off access for poor women who don't live in one of the state's urban areas.

Poor women who want an abortion? Check. Next on the list for Texas Republicans: Cutting off access to vulnerable teenagers and women who seek an abortion under incredibly dire circumstances.

Twice this month committees have heard bills drafted by Republican lawmakers to greatly restrict the process known as judicial bypass, in which minors can petition a judge to get an abortion if either their parents won't consent or if the girls have reason to fear for their safety. Then, in an unexpected move on the House floor Thursday, a Republican lawmaker successfully crammed language into an unrelated bill that would end the exception to the state's ban on abortions after 20 weeks if it's discovered a fetus has severe abnormalities -- medical conditions that aren't typically detected until later in a pregnancy.

Read more: http://blogs.houstonpress.com/news/2015/04/texas_republicans_are_still_chipping_away_at_abortion_rights.php

San Antonio May Require Pet Owners To Microchip Cats And Dogs

Next Thursday, San Antonio City Council will vote on a proposal to require owners of cats and dogs to obtain microchip implants.

Right now, all pet owners need to do is obtain a metal license tag showing the animal has been vaccinated for rabies and pay a fee. The proposal deletes that language from city code.

The new rule would be that any owner or keeper of a dog or cat must implant the animal with a registered microchip before it is four-months-old.

"A currently valid dog or cat license shall continue to be valid until its expiration. On or before its expiration, the owner shall have the animal implanted with a registered microchip in accordance with the provisions of this chapter," the proposal states.

Read more: http://www.sacurrent.com/Blogs/archives/2015/04/23/san-antonio-may-require-pet-owners-to-microchip-cats-and-dogs

Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Corruption Bill Passes Texas House

For the past few weeks, we’ve been covering the saga of Republicans’ proposed “get-out-of-jail-free” bill as it moves through the Legislature. The bill would move the Public Integrity Unit from its current home in the Travis Count DA’s office, and instead allow corruption to be prosecuted in officials’ home counties. This week, corruption got one step closer to becoming entrenched in Texas law, as the Republican-led House passed its version of the bill.

As the Texas Tribune reported, HB 1690, the House bill, ” would create a special process for public officials accused of corruption. …Under HB 1690, these cases… would be handled by the Texas Rangers and then referred for prosecution to the elected official’s home county.” Democrats did their best to try and stop the bill, with Rep. Mary González’s (D-Clint) point of order about a paragraph of analysis in the bill delaying the vote by several days late last week. She also pointed out that the Texas Rangers receive funding from the Legislature, which could create conflicts of interest if the Rangers were to investigate a legislator, and she reiterated that prosecution in home counties makes trials more susceptible to undue political influences.

The House bill is similar to the Senate’s bill to move the PIU out of Travis County, with a few additional amendments. For example, the House adopted an amendment that exempts state employees from home-county prosecution, leaving that avenue available only to elected and appointed officials. There’s also an amendment that would require local prosecutors to step aside in cases where they had a business relationship with the defendant.

The provisions in the bill would not affect any of the PIU’s current cases, said Gregg Cox, who heads the PIUIn fact, only four of the cases the PIU has investigated in the past 15 years would have been affected by the bill’s terms. The trouble is, at least one of those cases would almost certainly not have been prosecuted had this bill been in effect. As Cox explained:

“The danger is, one of those cases was Kino Flores, and he had been committing crimes in his home county, and no one would pursue the case there. … If this bill had been in effect at that time, he would probably still be in office and would not be prosecuted.”

Read more: http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/30011/get-out-of-jail-free-corruption-bill-passes-texas-house

American earns record $932 million first quarter profit

Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

American Airlines reported a first quarter profit of $932 million, beating its record of $480 million earned in the first quarter of 2014.

“We are pleased to report record first quarter profits, exceeding the prior record set just last year,” said American chief executive Doug Parker in a statement. “We are particularly pleased with the integration achievements our team has realized and look forward to building on those successes through 2015 and beyond.”

However, the Fort Worth-based carrier’s revenues dropped 1.7 percent to $9.82 billion for the quarter due to competitive capacity growth and economic softness in Latin America. American has had to compete with Southwest Airlines adding dozens of new routes out of Dallas Love Field since the expiration of the Wright Amendment restrictions last fall.

The carrier cut capacity by 1.7 percent and its load factor declined 0.3 percentage points to 80.3 percent. Unit revenues also declined 2 percent in the quarter.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/aviation/sky-talk-blog/article19364811.html#storylink=cpy

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/business/aviation/sky-talk-blog/article19364811.html

Public pensions own payday lender that is illegal in their own states

Going back to colonial days, it has been illegal for payday lenders to operate in the state of New York. Same goes for neighboring New Jersey.

But public pension funds in both states are indirect owners of ACE Cash Express Inc., the nation’s second-largest payday lender. It’s not an illegal arrangement, but it sure borders on hypocritical.

Texas-based ACE was a publicly traded company until October 2006, when it was acquired for around $455 million by JLL Partners, a middle-market private equity firm that is currently in the midst of raising $1.1 billion for its seventh fund.

At the time of its original acquisition, JLL managing director Frank Rodriguez said that the deal “presents a wonderful opportunity for us to work with the company in continuing its development as a market leader in the retail financial services industry.” What Rodriguez didn’t add, however, was that the buyout was partially being bankrolled by public workers in states that found ACE’s business to be predatory.

Read more: http://fortune.com/2015/04/20/public-pensions-payday-loans/

Two years after Bangladesh factory collapse, a struggle to set things right

DHAKA, Bangladesh — The thrum of needles filled the expansive factory floor as machines embroidered small hearts on thousands of pieces of fabric. Piles of tiny distressed jeans for children covered a table at Alif Embroidery Village, a factory of 1,800 workers on the outskirts of Dhaka that makes clothes for international brands such as H&M and Gap.

One by one, a young man embossed the jeans’ inner waistbands by hand with an H&M label and the words “Conscious & Denim” in silver lettering. Nearby, workers methodically screen printed the words “Holly Whyte” on tank tops and added layers of glitter. Young women in colorful saris blow-dried the letters by hand.

But amid the daily garment bustle, another kind of work was being carried out. On the ground floor, engineers and construction workers climbed into a gaping hole around a concrete pillar sprouting rebar. More than 30 concrete columns will be reinforced in this six-story building over several months. Holes cut in the ceiling awaited the installation of a high-tech smoke alarm system. And newly installed fire doors still had plastic wrapping around their edges.

Two years after the world’s worst garment factory disaster, Bangladesh’s garment industry is immersed in an urgent, massive effort to bring factories up to international safety standards. Inspections of more than 2,700 of 3,500 export facilities had been completed by the end of March, and “remediation” — correcting the litany of problems — is underway.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/bangladesh-garment-industry-pushes-to-meet-deadlines-on-safety-standards/2015/04/22/b72ca9f0-e87b-11e4-8581-633c536add4b_story.html

What Happens When You Give a Robot $100 in Bitcoin? It Buys Drugs

An automated online shopping robot set up by a Swiss art collective has run afoul of law enforcement. The bot purchased a Hungarian passport, a baseball cap with a built-in camera, and some Ecstasy.

The bot, known as the "Random Darknet Shopper," is given a weekly allowance of $100 USD in Bitcoin and then let loose on the so-called "dark web," where illicit substances can be bought and sold in a more protected environment than the normal old internet.

According to cnet, the Swiss authorities confiscated the bot and its illegal wares in January, and the bot was recently returned to the artists with its purchases intact. Well, the ones that weren't illegal party drugs at least. The MDMA tablets were destroyed by the authorities.

The artists behind the PLURbot, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, programmed the bot to randomly purchase items it comes across as it scours the dark web. The purchases are then sent to a Swiss art gallery to form an exhibition. The artists were not charged, as the local police determined the E was never intended to be sold or consumed.

Read more: http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/04/22/what-happens-when-you-give-a-robot-100-in-bitcoin-it-buys-drugs

Pentagon can’t account for $1 billion in Afghan reconstruction aid

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department can’t account for $1.3 billion that was shipped to force commanders in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2014 for critical reconstruction projects, 60 percent of all such spending under an emergency program, an internal report released Thursday concludes.

The missing money was part of the relatively small amount of Afghanistan spending that was routed directly to military officers in a bid to bypass bureaucracy and rush the construction of urgently needed roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, water treatment plants and other essential infrastructure. About 70 percent of the $100 billion the United States has spent to rebuild Afghanistan during more than 13 years of war went through the Pentagon, with the rest distributed by the U.S. Agency for International Development and other civilian departments.

A yearlong investigation by John F. Sopko, the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, found that the Pentagon couldn’t – or wouldn’t – provide basic information about what happened to 6 in 10 dollars of $2.26 billion it had spent over the course of a decade on the Commander’s Emergency Response Program.

“In reviewing this data, SIGAR found that the Department of Defense could only provide financial information relating to the disbursement of funds for CERP projects totaling $890 million (40 percent) of the approximately $2.2 billion in obligated funds at that time,” Sopko’s report says.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/04/23/264136/more-than-1-billion-in-us-emergency.html

Univ. of Florida frat accused of insulting wounded war vets

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The University of Florida is investigating allegations that members of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity spat at a group of disabled military veterans last weekend at a resort in Panama City Beach.

University of Florida President Kent Fuchs called the behavior unacceptable and promised a full investigation. He made the remarks in an email to Linda Cope, the founder of the Warrior Beach Retreat at Laketown Wharf Resort.

Cope and others who say they witnessed the incidents at the Panama City resort reported concerns to Fuchs. They said they saw the fraternity members spitting at the veterans and stealing their flags.

Fuchs said the school is making every effort to learn what happened and take appropriate action.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/us/article/Univ-of-Florida-frat-accused-of-insulting-6221300.php
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