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TexasTowelie

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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: 77,599

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

Baton Rouge, New Orleans business leaders looking for common ground to advance region’s interests

Baton Rouge and New Orleans are a classic case of frenemies, which is to say that they have a surface level friendship and a deep-seated rivalry.

The two cities are 80 miles away, but sometimes feel worlds apart. New Orleans, a liberal-leaning city, is the cultural gem of Louisiana known for some of the best food, music and art in the country. Baton Rouge, a more socially conservative place, is the seat of state government. Many residents take pride in what they see as a more business-oriented and family-friendly atmosphere.

Whatever the cultural differences, business leaders, led by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and Greater New Orleans Inc., want to create more of a shared identity, at least economically. As they see it, if Louisiana’s two economic powerhouses joined forces in a kind of super region, it would both make them more competitive and more of a political force.

“When Houston has 50 percent more people than the entire state of Louisiana, clearly we have to celebrate our diversity as a strength,” said Michael Hecht, president of GNO Inc. “For us to try to compete against Houston with a labor shed of just one parish or even just one region is handicapping ourselves unnecessarily.”

Read more: http://theadvocate.com/news/12196033-123/baton-rouge-new-orleans-business

State backing for new Baton Rouge Children’s Hospital sought in Legislature

The Jindal administration last week backed a $20 million commitment toward construction of a new children’s hospital in south Baton Rouge.

If approved, the money would be the state’s contribution toward a $200 million facility dedicated to the medical needs of youth, which is on the drawing boards at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. The 130-bed OLOL Children’s Hospital would stand alone off Interstate 10 between Essen Lane and Bluebonnet Boulevard near the Lake’s facilities.

At the request of the Capitol Area Legislative Delegation, the project was added to the administration’s capital outlay proposal, which ranks the various construction projects the governor is backing. House Bill 2, which includes requests for state financial support, must be approved by the Legislature.

“We work with regional and local delegations to identify and fund priorities. The Children’s Hospital is one of the Baton Rouge-area delegation’s top priorities,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said.

Read more: http://theadvocate.com/news/12196786-123/state-backing-for-new-baton

Road, bridge aid sparking spate of bills in Legislature

After years of complaints but few solutions, Louisiana’s roads and bridges are suddenly sparking heavy interest in the Legislature.

Despite long odds, House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, wants to boost state aid for roads and bridges by $675 million per year by increasing the state sales tax by 1 cent.

That would raise about $7 billion over 10 years — the most sweeping such proposal since a $3 billion highway plan died in 2011 within hours of being announced and without a single vote being taken.

A total of 15 projects would benefit, including construction of a new bridge over the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge, upgrades at the Port of New Orleans to handle bigger ships and improving Interstate 49 between Lafayette and Broussard.

Read more: http://theadvocate.com/news/12157865-123/road-bridge-aid-sparking-spate

Pregnant woman shot, killed overnight in Baton Rouge; unborn child delivered at hospital

Baton Rouge police late Saturday were still trying to come up with a clear picture of the events that led to the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old pregnant woman at her apartment late Friday.

While authorities have not identified any suspects, they say whoever shot and killed Brittney Mills was probably someone she knew. Her unborn baby was saved.

Cpl. Don Coppola, a police spokesman, said investigators believe from a preliminary investigation that Mills opened her door to someone who wanted to use her car and was shot multiple times after she refused.

Mills, who lived in an apartment complex in the 200 block of Ship Drive, was found dead when police arrived about 10:38 p.m. Friday but was rushed to a local hospital, where her unborn child was removed in unstable condition. Authorities declined to identify the hospital the woman was taken to but said the infant’s condition had improved to stable and the baby was expected to survive.

Read more: http://theadvocate.com/news/12202975-123/pregnant-woman-shot-killed-overnight

Caddo Parish (Shreveport) DA Charles Scott died of heart disease in Baton Rouge hotel room

Preliminary results of an autopsy Thursday showed Caddo Parish District Attorney Charles Rex Scott, who was found dead at a hotel in Baton Rouge Wednesday morning, died of previously undiagnosed heart disease, according to Caddo Parish coroner Dr. Todd Thoma.

Though foul play is not suspected in the 67-year-old's death, an autopsy was ordered in the interest of caution, Thoma said.

"Due to the fact that he's a prominent citizen, that he died in a hotel room in Baton Rouge, there's always these conspiracy theories about, 'Oh, he had enemies'… And the only way to be thorough is to go ahead and do an autopsy and do an investigation," said Thoma.

Full results from the examination, which was performed by Dr. James Traylor, a forensic pathologist with Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, will be ready in three to four weeks, he said.

Read more: http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/news/2015/04/22/caddo-district-attorney-charles-scott-found-dead/26178277/

Could Britain vote to quit the EU and the US?

PARIS — The British general election early next month may prove as significant for Europe, and even for the United States, as for Britain itself. The British electorate must make an unprecedented choice among Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists, UK Independents (or UKIP, who want to quit Europe) and Greens, to name only the parties likely to have any influence on the outcome.

This dazzling array of political choice, to voters collectively accustomed for nearly a century only to Tories, Liberals, Labour and an unelectable left, offers a conundrum to those who would forecast the outcome this year. As of this writing, the Conservatives and Labour are so closely matched in voter opinion as to make virtually no difference. Either, winning by the minuscule margins suggested today, is almost certain to need a coalition partner to construct a government. The candidates for that role are the Liberal Democrats, who shared rule with the Conservatives in the present outgoing government, but who have always harbored leftist sympathies and would shock few if they joined a new government with Ed Miliband’s reformed Labour Party.

However what British commentators find more intriguing is the possibility that the Scottish Nationalists, newly led by Nicola Sturgeon, could come in third (or even second, but without a result large enough to make them the official opposition). It nonetheless is now the third largest party in Britain, with 110,000 signed-up members, and would therefore have a powerful claim to a coalition position, and be strong enough to impose its mark on new government’s policies. Scotland in that case might have lost its bid for independence last year, but would have irresistible influence in a coalition government of Britain.

Then we have UKIP, the withdraw-from-the-EU party. Or one could say, one of the two anti-European parties in Britain if we count the Conservative Party according to where its heart really wants to be. Business, the City of London, and pressure from the United States keeps the Tory Party from bolting from its orthodox establishment position. Its members generally hate the EU, but its leaders accept the pragmatic arguments that the British manufacturing economy needs Europe and British high finance would be unlikely to hold its position as the world’s most important competitor of Wall Street without EU membership. Finally, what is Britain’s role if it ceases to be Washington’s entry into Europe and agent of influence in Brussels?

Read more: http://www.williampfaff.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=726

Diabetes drug found in freshwater is a potential cause of intersex fish

A medication commonly taken for Type II diabetes, which is being found in freshwater systems worldwide, has been shown to cause intersex in fish -male fish that produce eggs.

A study by Rebecca Klaper at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee determined exposure to the diabetes medicine metformin causes physical changes in male fish exposed to doses similar to the amount in wastewater effluent.

In addition to intersex conditions, fish exposed to metformin were smaller in size than those not exposed, said Klaper, a professor in UWM's School of Freshwater Sciences.

The study, co-authored by Nicholas Niemuth, a researcher in Klaper's lab, was recently published in the journal Chemosphere.

Read more: http://phys.org/news/2015-04-diabetes-drug-freshwater-potential-intersex.html

Cross-posted in the Energy & Environment Group.

Please dispose any unused prescriptions in any environmentally conscious manner.

Diabetes drug found in freshwater is a potential cause of intersex fish

A medication commonly taken for Type II diabetes, which is being found in freshwater systems worldwide, has been shown to cause intersex in fish -male fish that produce eggs.

A study by Rebecca Klaper at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee determined exposure to the diabetes medicine metformin causes physical changes in male fish exposed to doses similar to the amount in wastewater effluent.

In addition to intersex conditions, fish exposed to metformin were smaller in size than those not exposed, said Klaper, a professor in UWM's School of Freshwater Sciences.

The study, co-authored by Nicholas Niemuth, a researcher in Klaper's lab, was recently published in the journal Chemosphere.

Read more: http://phys.org/news/2015-04-diabetes-drug-freshwater-potential-intersex.html

Cross-posted in the Diabetes Support Group.

[font color=green]Please dispose any unused prescriptions in any environmentally conscious manner.[/font]

Greece Talks With Eurogroup Hit “Complete Breakdown”

By Yves Smith

We said as soon as Syriza was voted into office, in How Much Success is Syriza Likely to Have in Ending Austerity? that it was unlikely to prevail:

I see three stumbling blocks for the Greek negotiating position. The first is that there seems to be no overlap between what they want and the northern bloc is likely to be willing to concede….

Second is that the best idea that the Greeks have to square the circle of austerity v. the Greeks wanting a more pro-growth, more humanitarian solution, the so-called Modest Proposal, is not modest at all from the Eurozone perspective. While it is “modest” in that it works within the existing Eurozone institutional frameworks, it is such a radical departure from the negotiating terms that the Troika generally has on the table in these discussions that there is simply no way to get agreement by summer…even if the Troika had an unexpected change of heart and was willing to be far more innovative on the policy front, as opposed to the financial smoke and mirrors front….

Aside from the fact that this plan has too many moving parts to get done in an at best six month runway there is a third, deeper reason it won’t happen. The Germans do not want deeper integration and more cedeing of power to Eurozone/European level institutions. From their perspective, they are footing the bill of their neighbors, and they therefore want to maintain a position which gives them leverage. Of course, Germany is perversely in denial of the fact that it wants contradictory things, namely, to keep running large and sustained trade surpluses within the Eurozone, and not finance its trade partners. Nevertheless, the very assumption that Galbraith set forth on behalf of Syriza, that Syriza is pro the Eurozone project working, and to them that means deeper integration, is not what Germany wants since that would require it to give up its advantaged position.


As Syriza spoke more about its vision and plans, it confirmed our initial reading, that there was no overlap between its bargaining position and that of its creditors. When that is the case in business negotiations, the talks go a few rounds and either cease due to understandable failure to make progress (or the discovery in ones mainly about price that the bid and offer ranges don’t overlap at all) or end in a huff as both sides become disenchanted with each other. In international negotiations, there is more pressure to reach any kind of a deal, even if just a face-saving, empty statement. But when talks do fail, it’s often like the Doha trade round: the parties have lots of tries, make one last push to see if they can resolve differences, and then give up with a sense of defeat and exhaustion.

Today, an important date came and went. Friday was a Eurogroup meeting. There had been a dim hope that Greece and the Troika would make enough progress and have had agreed or largely agreed on the structural reforms that the Eurogroup could conceivably have approved the release of the so-called bailout funds. But instead, the regularly scheduled meeting took place with a deal on the structural reforms still looking remote. As a fallback, the Eurogroup wanted to hear about what progress Greece had made, presumably with a goal of reaching an agreement by the next Eurogroup meeting on May 11 (note that this will be after Greece has two more IMF payments to make, and it’s already under great stress to find the funds). The conversation got ugly, as if the other ministers wanted to pick up Varoufakis by his lapels and shake him. It reads like a divorce, when partners keep having to deal with each other when they’ve decided emotionally that they are done with each other.

Mind you, the Eurogroup is not necessarily the final arbiter; Tsipras has pinned his hopes on Merkel being committed to not having the Eurozone break up and having enough clout to force the others to heel. But any of the Eurozone members could stymie a deal around the bailout; it takes the approval of all members to release the monies. And the IMF and the ECB are not happy with Greece either.

Read more: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/04/greece-talking-eurogroup-hit-complete-breakdown.html

Houston man faces prison time in union embezzlement scheme

A Houston man was convicted on Friday of embezzling from the United Transportation Union Local 1892 in a scheme that involved shopping trips to Sam's Club.

Henry Shuler, 65, the former union treasurer, stole around $40,000 over a six-year period. The embezzlement occurred unauthorized purchases from Sam's Club and through masking other funds as union dues repayments to members who didn't exist, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Shuler was charged in February with one count of embezzlement of union funds following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards Dallas-New Orleans office. Investigators were tipped off to Shuler's actions by an internal auditor with UTU International.

Shuler faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for the crime. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 17.

http://www.chron.com/houston/article/Houston-man-faces-prison-time-in-union-6224100.php

[font color=green[Although this isn't part of the SOP of this group, i thought this might be of interest to members of the group. If the the members of this group disagree, then please send me a PM and I'll delete it.[/font]


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