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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

Smithfield Bosses to Get $85.4 Million From Chinese Deal

Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD) executives, who run one of the worst-performing large U.S. food makers over the past five years, are set to reap at least $85.4 million from its sale to China’s Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.

The company has been under pressure from its biggest shareholder for lagging behind competitors Hormel Foods Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. Continental Grain Co., which has a 6.8 percent stake, said in March that Smithfield should appoint new managers and break itself into three businesses as rising animal-feed costs made its hog-production unit unprofitable.

The total payout is based on the stock and share options held by Smithfield’s five top executives, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Among the managers, Chief Executive Officer C. Larry Pope owns stock valued at $25.4 million based on the $34-per-share offer price, according a May 17 filing.

Pope would also get $11 million for his share options, according to Smithfield’s most recent proxy filing in August, which based its calculation on control of the company changing on April 29, 2012. The stock on that date was 38 percent less than the price that China’s biggest pork producer agreed to pay this week. The other four executives also stand to get paid out on their options.

More at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-31/smithfield-bosses-to-get-85-4-million-from-chinese-deal.html .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Sun Jun 2, 2013, 01:21 AM (0 replies)

Obama's Data Team Totally Schooled Gallup

In the new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, I have a short feature about how Google’s (GOOG) executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, is investing millions in a new company with Dan Wagner and two dozen other veterans of the Obama campaign’s data analytics team. Schmidt was, not surprisingly, full of praise for the engineers, statisticians, and scientists whose work informed the strategy of a campaign that won by 5 million votes. But given the collaborative effort and many moving parts of a modern presidential campaign, it can be difficult to isolate the data team’s contribution. One great example, though, is the intricate mathematical models of swing states that Wagner and colleagues built that were meant to offer an alternative glimpse of the state of the race to public polls and even the campaign’s internal polls.

As David Plouffe, then a senior White House adviser, explained in my story, the data team’s models proved to be much steadier and more accurate than even the traditional tracking polls the campaign was also conducting. A number of Obama vets repeated this claim to me, so I asked them to provide some evidence to back it up, and they did. Here, for the first time, is a chart based on internal data that shows how the Obama campaign’s swing state model performed against the much maligned Gallup poll over the last several months of the race. This was the campaign’s daily “horserace” projection of the outcome, based on a nightly survey of 10,000 people.

To me, a few thing jump out: Gallup indicates that the selection of Paul Ryan as running mate hurt Mitt Romney, but Obama’s model really doesn’t; Gallup suggests, incredibly, that the “47 Percent” flap hurt Obama and moved the race back in Romney’s direction; and, biggest of all, Gallup shows a huge drop for Obama—really, an outright collapse—after the debacle of the first debate. At the time, Obama’s staffers were claiming to the press that, yes, their internal numbers showed the president’s weak showing had hurt his support, but that the fall was brief and quickly stabilized right about where his level of support had been all along. As a reporter, you never know if you’re just being spun when campaigns tell you this, because even if they really were collapsing the way Gallup suggests, they’d probably lie about it and say everything was fine, so as not to feed the panic. Based on this data, though, the Obama campaign looks to have been telling the truth.

One last bit of color I wanted to include in the original piece but couldn’t fit. David Axelrod, for one, had enough faith in his data guys that he was willing to bet his mustache on it. A week before the election, Axelrod wandered back to The Cave, where the analytics team worked, to ask point-blank if Obama would win Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Newspapers were reporting surging crowds at Romney rallies and waning enthusiasm for Obama. Wagner said he thought he would. The next day, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Axelrod announced he would shave his mustache if Obama were to lose even one of those states. He won all three.

Source: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-31/obamas-data-team-totally-schooled-gallup#r=rss

Giant sinkhole follows Oklahoma storm, flooding

OKLAHOMA COUNTY, Oklahoma — Severe weather in central Oklahoma caused widespread damage and flooding in an already storm-battered region.

Severe flooding took out a chunk of a road in eastern Oklahoma County. Amazingly enough, cars were still driving by on this dangerous highway Saturday morning as water rushed over the road., pouring off in a literal waterfall into a huge sinkhole.

Several tornadoes raged through the Oklahoma City metro area on Friday evening. The death toll was still rising Saturday as officials assessed the storm damage again.

Less than two weeks ago, a massive EF-5 tornado killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma and destroyed major parts of the community.

Video and photo gallery at http://www.wfaa.com/news/weather/Giant-sinkhole-follows-Oklahoma-storm-flooding-209791561.html .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Sat Jun 1, 2013, 10:50 PM (0 replies)

Seeds, Storms and Transitions

by Carol Morgan

Almost five years ago, I sold my home of twenty-six years, a huge quirky mid-century place that required constant maintenance and a lot of sweat and toil. It was the place where I raised my son alone and weathered the myriad of storms and changes in my life.

My new home was vacant and neglected for three years, the yard untended and wild, dry and full of weeds. I set to work. After four years of various interventions, fertilizers and soil conditioners, wildflower seeds and plants, I sadly resigned myself to the fact that nothing could possibly grow in this garden. It was a waste of effort.


In April of this year, beautiful flowers of every color and kind peeked through the soil, scattered and random, under rocks and even in the grass. How was I to know that the seeds I’d planted two, three, and even four years ago, the very ones I’d given up on, would suddenly spring to life?

Planting seeds is a perfect metaphor for our efforts in life. We should be ever mindful of that metaphor in the cultivation of our future; especially in dealing with young people. We should realize that it applies to social and political change as well.

Continued at http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/carol-morgan/2013-06-01/seeds-storms-and-transitions
Posted by TexasTowelie | Sat Jun 1, 2013, 10:07 PM (3 replies)

Congressional Democrats ask Texas Gov. Rick Perry to add Medicaid expansion to special session

Texas Democrats in Congress have asked Gov. Rick Perry to add Medicaid expansion to the Legislature’s ongoing special session.

In a letter sent Friday to Perry, 11 of the 12 Democrats in the state’s delegation to Congress told Perry that failing to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act would leave 49,000 veterans without health insurance.

The congressmen cite a report by the Urban Institute as evidence that Perry should change his stand on not expanding Medicaid in Texas.

“This report makes a compelling case for Medicaid expansion,” said Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. “I just returned from Afghanistan where I met with our brave service-members. We have an obligation to be there for them when they return. They deserve more than rhetoric.”

More at http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/06/congressional-democrats-ask-texas-gov-rick-perry-to-add-medicaid-expansion-to-special-session.html/ .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Sat Jun 1, 2013, 08:28 PM (2 replies)

Friday Night Catnip: The Golden Dawn - Power Plant

No, this isn't about the right-wing extremist political organization and political party in Greece.

The Golden Dawn are an American psychedelic rock band formed in Austin, Texas, in 1966. The band released one album, titled Power Plant, before breaking up soon after the album's release in 1968. The record company, the infamous International Artists label out of Houston, had made a decision that seems to have "shafted" the career of the vibrant Golden Dawn. This is what happened: a few months after the release of the 13th Floor Elevators' "Psychedelic Sounds" debut, the Dawn had finished Power Plant in mid-1967 and were ready to let it fly; but, by that time, the Elevators were beginning to record their second album, Easter Everywhere, which the record company management thought, for unknown reasons, should come out first, much to the dismay of George Kinney (voc, guitar), Tom Ramsey (lead guitar), Jimmy Bird (rhythm guitar), Bill Hallmark (bass), and Bobby Rector (drums)--collectively, The Golden Dawn. When Power Plant was finally released in 1968, it was largely panned as the work of an Elevators knock-off band and was unjustly snubbed in a way that was big enough to discourage the development of the band. Through the years, Power Plant climbed in "cult" status to the point where recognition of its music drew out George Kinney once again to reform the band in 2002 and perform live all over the States.


1. Evolution 0:00
2. This Way Please 03:30
3. Starvation 08:33
4. I'll Be Around 11:25
5. Seeing Is Believing 14:26
6. My Time 16:46
7. A Nice Surprise 20:36
8. Every Day 23:30
9. Tell Me Why 27:28
10. Reaching Out To You 29:37

Favorite YouTube comment: "All those mushrooms on the cover. We can therefore conclude that they must have been really into omelets."

No omelets tonight, but the catnip smells good!


Ventura dangles idea of 2016 presidential bid

Source: AP

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Just back from his part-time home in Mexico, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura dangled the idea Friday that he could run for the U.S. presidency in 2016.

Ventura eagerly volunteered the possibility while at Minnesota's Capitol — and pushed back against skepticism that he would re-enter the political fray after being out of office since 2003. It's hardly the first time the publicity savvy Ventura has broached the idea he would run for the White House or Senate, only to pass on a campaign.

He said the next race is "an opportune time" for an independent like him to run because there will be no incumbent. He said he's approached radio shock jock Howard Stern about being his running mate, and Stern expressed interest.


"The key to this next election I think will be a candidate who doesn't belong to a political party and who has the ability to rise above the mainstream and get the press, which I've never had a problem doing," Ventura said.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/entertainment/article/Ventura-dangles-idea-of-2016-presidential-bid-4567031.php

U.S. attorney in Dallas finalizes $1.4 million deal to settle fraud allegations against Parkland

The U.S. attorney’s Dallas office just announced that it has finalized a $1.4 million deal with Parkland Memorial Hospital to resolve allegations that the facility defrauded the federal government through bogus insurance billings.

I reported last week that Parkland had agreed to pay the Justice Department, which substantiated whistleblower Lien Kyri’s lawsuit allegations that the hospital submitted claims for physical rehab consultations that patients’ primary care physicians never ordered. UT Southwestern Medical Center faculty physicians who work at Parkland directed resident doctors to perform the consults, placing some patients at risk of further injury, he said.

The Justice Department formally intervened as a plaintiff in the U.S. False Claims Act suit.

In a press statement, Sarah Saldana, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Texas, praised the investigative roles of federal health department officials and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

More at http://watchdogblog.dallasnews.com/2013/05/u-s-attorney-in-dallas-finalizes-1-4-million-deal-to-settle-fraud-allegations-against-parkland-memorial-hospital.html/ .

Perry says reshaping Texas' storm insurance program a possibility for Legislature's special session

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry said Friday he may add reshaping the troubled Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to a special legislative session he's already convened on redistricting, but wouldn't yet say for sure whether he'll give lawmakers more to do.

Perry called the Legislature back immediately after its 140-day regular session ended Monday, giving legislators 30 extra days to approve new electoral district voting maps — and any other item of his choosing. He said it was still "a little premature" to be adding items to the agenda, but when asked specifically whether the agency known as TWIA could be one of them, answered "it's certainly possible."

The governor said it was an issue "we've spent a lot of time working on and trying to find a solution to. It's a complex issue as diverse as the state is with the huge exposure that we have along the Gulf Coast."

TWIA is a nonprofit, state-supervised insurer of last resort for people who can't get private property insurance in 14 coastal counties and part of Harris County, which includes Houston.

More at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20130531-perry-says-reshaping-texas-storm-insurance-program-a-possibility-for-legislature-s-special-session.ece .

American Commercial College settles federal false claims case

A Lubbock-based career college has settled a dispute with the federal government in a whistle-blower suit over falsified financial reporting.

American Commercial College has agreed to pay at least $1 million over the next five years to settle a suit alleging that the school falsified financial reports so that it could qualify for federal student aid funds.

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington issued late Friday, May 31, the college might have to pay an additional $1.5 million under a contingency clause in the settlement.

H. Grady Terrill, attorney for the school, said he anticipates the Lubbock campus reopening after re-applying for a license. Two other campuses that came under federal scrutiny are open.

More at http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2013-05-31/acc-settles-federal-false-claims-case#comment-291960 .
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