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Profile Information

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: 84,659

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

Judge: Why Didn't Lawmakers Address Voter ID Concerns?

NEW ORLEANS – A federal appellate judge on Tuesday questioned why the Texas Legislature had not addressed concerns that its four-year-old voter ID law discriminated against minority voters.

U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Catharina Haynes stopped short of rebuking state lawmakers while listening to attorneys spar over what are widely considered the nation’s strictest rules on the identification that voters must present at the polls. But she sounded perplexed that lawmakers had not made the law more palatable to critics as it winded through the federal court system.

“They’re meeting right now. They had that opportunity. What are they doing?” Haynes asked from a perch on a three-judge panel of the appeals court.

"Why wouldn't the legislative system fix the {Texas} rules?" added Haynes, who was appointed to the court by then-President George W. Bush. "Why should we fix the {Texas} rules?"

Read more: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/04/28/fed-judge-legislature-why-not-tweak-voter-id-law/

Continental Resources CEO’s ex-wife left with $1 billion divorce award

The ex-wife of Continental Resources Inc.’s Harold Hamm lost her bid to reopen a divorce case in which she was awarded only $1 billion of what she said was her former spouse’s much larger fortune.

Sue Ann Arnall, Hamm’s wife for 26 years, forfeited her right to appeal by cashing a check for the judgment in January, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said Tuesday. Arnall “voluntarily accepted the benefits of the judgment,” the court said in dismissing her appeal.

Judge Howard Haralson in November gave the bulk of the family’s assets and investments to the Continental founder, including his majority stake in the Oklahoma City-based company. Divorce attorneys expressed surprise that a billionaire’s wife hadn’t received a larger share of the family’s estate, having predicted she might get as much as 30 percent.

Arnall’s lawyers said she didn’t waive her right to appeal by cashing the check, but was protecting her interests in real estate awarded by the judge. Ron Barber, her attorney, didn’t immediately comment on the supreme court’s decision.

Read more: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/04/28/continental-ceos-ex-wife-left-with-1-billion-divorce-award/

Senate approves tougher ethics bill including drug-testing themselves

Senators added punch back into a weakened ethics bill with provisions that call for drug testing of elected officials, convicted felons to leave office, tougher financial disclosures and more transparent dealings with lobbyists.

The bill passed 30-1. But when reporters asked who voted against the bill, Senate staff said the vote was now unanimous.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Plano’s Sen. Van Taylor carried the ethics overhaul bill as Gov. Greg Abbott named it one of his emergency items of the session.

Read more: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/04/senate-approves-tougher-ethics-bill.html/

Paranoia catches Abbott attention: gov orders Texas guard to monitor military exercises over fears

Paranoia catches Abbott attention: gov orders Texas guard to monitor military exercises over fears of federal takeover

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Guard to monitor federal military exercises in Texas after some citizens have lit up the Internet saying the maneuvers are actually the prelude to martial law.

The operation causing rampant suspicions is a new kind of exercise involving elite teams such as the SEALS and Green Berets from four military branches training over several states from July 15 to Sept. 15

Called Jade Helm 15, the exercise is one of the largest training operation done by the military in response to what it calls the evolving nature of warfare. About 1,200 special operations personnel will be involved and move covertly among the public. They will use military equipment to travel between seven southwestern states from Texas and California.

On Monday, command spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria attended a Bastrop County Commissioners meeting to answer community questions and was met with hostile fire. Lastoria, in response to some of the questions from the 150 who attended, sought to dispel fears that foreign fighters from an Islamic State were being brought in or that Texans’ guns would be confiscated, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman.

He was forced to refute martial law was underfoot and said misinformation has been spread by those with a “personal agenda.”

Read more: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/04/paranoia-catches-abbott-attention-gov-orders-texas-guard-to-monitor-military-exercises-over-fears-of-federal-takeover.html/

Road music.

Texas Bill Would Reduce All Teachers' Salaries To Just $27,000

Many teachers don't have a problem with being evaluated or expected to meet certain core knowledge. We have a problem with using a timed test that is designed to trick children rather than measure what they have actually. learned to determine our pay/worth.

We have students that come to us each year already behind because they have a difficult home life, or they have little to no parental support for many different reasons. Many students have a learning disability or are considered to have an IQ too low to qualify for special education to get the extra supports they need. Sadly, because of STAAR tests and the fact that our curriculums have become so overloaded with concepts that the kids are not ready to learn (for example: LOTS of new math TEKS added to each grade level this year without much taken away), teachers are forced to move quickly through everything to get everything taught before STAAR. We are also told that we must differentiate our instruction to accommodate the 22-25 different learning styles sitting in our classrooms. We don't have a problem with that, but then why are all of our kids with different learning styles tested one way? Not to mention the fact that special education students are no longer given the opportunity to take a modified test. They are given few accommodations and are expected to pass. This includes life skills students. We are starting to see our students stress out to the point of tears, self confidence is diminishing, and they are giving up. They don't enjoy school anymore and I have to say that a lot of teachers are beginning to feel the same way.

We teachers do everything we can to help our kids. We sacrifice time with family and friends on weeknights and weekends to plan lessons, grade papers, tutor kids, and go to workshops. We spend a lot of our own money buying things for our classrooms, school supplies, rewards/treats for jobs well done, books, clothing for less fortunate students, and even Christmas gifts. I (and many other teachers) have spent money on food that I kept in a closet in an old classroom for kids to take home on the weekends so they'd have things to eat at home.

We pour our hearts and souls into this job.

I took this from the AFT website to give you a little info on the bill we are fighting.
HB 2543 and SB 893 would reduce the teacher minimum pay to $27,540 a year. This is a serious policy mistake that would hurt efforts to recruit and retain good teachers. HB 2543 and SB 893 would also allow misuse of standardized tests for evaluation to be imposed by the commissioner of education statewide, rather than local authority to rely on better measures. For the state to promote this misuse of these tests would be a surefire way to make the excessive emphasis on standardized testing in our schools even worse, at a time when parents and teachers alike increasingly see the testing obsession as truly destructive of teaching and learning.

Read more: http://www.iamatexan.com/blog/texas-bill-would-reduce-all-teachers-salaries-to-just-27000/

Texas State student sits nearly nude outside library for art project on objectification of women

SAN MARCOS -- Texas State students walking through central campus Monday witnessed an unexpected sight of a fellow student perched on the steps of the school's library blindfolded and almost completely nude.

Monika Rostvold, who quickly became the talk of campus, said in a phone interview that the 45-minute demonstration was for an art project that focused on fellow students' reactions and objectification of the female body, said Rostvold, a fine arts senior.

“I wanted people to view my body as beauty and power and not a sexual object," said Rostvold, a fine arts senior. "The fact that it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month I wanted to create a piece about the standards that exist in our society. Being a victim and having friends who are victims of sexual assault I wanted to take control of my body by eliminating my presence and exposing myself."

"At first, everyone was like 'what the heck?'" Rostvold said, adding that people were also being rude, touching her and getting close to take photos of her blindfolded face. Two of her classmates documented the reaction with a video camera while Rostvold sat in the busy area wearing nothing but a nude-colored thong and pasties.

Read more: http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/local/article/Naked-Texas-State-student-boldly-sits-outside-6226508.php#photo-7884072
(article includes photos that are NSFW)

Lawmakers Look to Ban Abortion From Health Plans

Health insurers could be prohibited from offering Texans plans covering abortions under a proposal by Republican state Sen. Larry Taylor of Friendswood that passed a Senate committee Monday.

Under Senate Bill 575, private health insurance plans and those offered through the federal Affordable Care Act’s marketplace could only provide coverage for abortions in cases of medical emergencies. Women seeking coverage for what Taylor calls “elective” abortions would be required to purchase supplemental health insurance plans.

“This bill is not a ban on elective abortions. In fact, this bill is all about choice,” Taylor told the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday as it considered his proposal.

The bill intends to keep premiums being paid to an insurance provider from underwriting abortion coverage, Taylor said. “Under this bill, you can choose to pay for abortions or you can choose not to pay for the abortions of others,” Taylor added.

Read more: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/04/27/lawmakers-look-ban-abortion-health-plans/

Hurt Feelings and Thin Skin – Session’s Getting Good

This report from R.G. Ratcliffe reads like something straight out of a bad reality show, The Big Three Breakfast Blows Up.

The weekly kumbaya breakfast between the big three Texas lawmakers broke down today into a round-robin of recriminations that concluded with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick declaring he was tired of Governor Greg Abbott and Speaker Joe Straus “picking on me.”

The blow-up, confirmed by multiple sources, represents the boiling point of long-simmering disputes. The House has been upset that Patrick declared his inauguration marked a “New Day” in Texas and that he pushed a conservative agenda quickly through the Senate with expectations that the House would just pass his legislation. But, instead, most of the Senate’s bills on tax cuts, licensed open carry of handguns and moving the Public Integrity Unit have languished in the House without even being referred to committee by Straus.

The House instead has passed its own version of the same legislation, putting the Senate in a take-it-or-leave-it position. To pass the Senate bills now, the House would have to have an entirely new debate on controversial measures it already has approved.

So the Senate, in what looked like retaliation on Tuesday, ignored a House-approved border security bill to vote on its own measure, putting the House into a take-it-or-leave-it position on border security – a measure that House Ways and Means Chair Dennis Bonnen had crafted to win support of border Democrats.

This may be Patrick’s New Day, but Straus’ Old Guard still runs the House.

Topping off that battle, Patrick’s grassroots advisory council sent out a letter Tuesday on its own letterhead attacking the House bill on pre-kindergarten education that was passed after a bitter fight. The legislation is part of Abbott’s signature set of legislation, but the Patrick advisory board of tea party activists claimed the bill would take children out of religious pre-schools and force them into “a Godless environment.” Patrick immediately put out a statement disowning the letter as “unsolicited and expresses the individual viewpoints of Texas citizens.”[/div class="excerpt"]

Everyone’s pointing fingers and no one appears to be leading. Sooner or later they’ll realize they can’t get anything done without each other. Until then the sniping between the semi-sane members of the GOP and the wing nuts will continue, and for those of us on the left we’ll just get the popcorn.

Certainly there’s quite a bit of bad blood between these two factions of the GOP. The same folks that bankroll the tea party candidates, and the tea party candidates themselves, are with Patrick and against Straus. And vice versa, of course. It’s on display most days on the House floor when Stickland takes the back mike to questions Speaker Joe Straus or Rep. Dennis Bonnen. It’s been on display in the media recently when Bonnen took on Lt. Gov. Patrick.

There are a couple of parts in the Trib article that make clearer what’s going on.

Before the breakfast, Patrick crossed paths at the Capitol with Geren. In the brief encounter, the Fort Worth Republican said he ribbed Patrick about the lieutenant governor’s advisory board coming out against the pre-K plan pushed by Abbott and approved by the House.

“I said, ‘That was a pretty good ambush you put on the governor the other day,’” Geren recalled late Wednesday. Patrick replied that he had no idea what Geren was talking about, according to Geren’s account.

Geren said the exchange was not a confrontation: “I would never do that. I have too much respect for the office.”

“If he got his feelings hurt,” Geren added, “then maybe his skin’s a little too thin.”

Read more: http://eyeonwilliamson.org/?p=14613

Islam debate returns to Garland ISD’s Culwell Center with Muhammad art event

For the second time this year, free speech and religious liberties are colliding at Garland ISD’s Curtis Culwell Center.

Opponents say the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest on Sunday will be an attack on Islam.

But its organizers, who booked the event after a controversial pro-Islamic event used the center in January, say they are simply exercising their right of expression.

The contest, which is offering a top prize of $10,000, has received about 350 entries depicting Muhammad. But caricatures of the Islamic prophet are considered offensive by many Muslims.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/garland-mesquite/headlines/20150427-islam-debate-returns-to-garland-isds-culwell-center-with-muhammad-art-event.ece

Related threads:
$10K Muhammad Art and Cartoon Contest at Garland Site of ‘Stand With the Prophet’ Conference

WATCH: Protesters surround conference put on by Texas Muslims: ‘You are not Americans’

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