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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: 78,327

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 officials warn of possible measles exposure at softball tournament in Kansas

State health officials said Thursday that more than 30 Texans could have been exposed to measles at an informal softball tournament in Wichita, Kansas, over the Fourth of July weekend.

State officials were notified of the possible exposure by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment but don’t know where in Texas the various teams reside, said a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

At least three recreational softball teams from Texas were in Wichita at the South Lakes Sports Complex, officials said. Texas authorities have not identified any measles cases associated with the event, but officials are urging anyone who was at the event to call 512-776-7676.

Measles is highly contagious and can be deadly.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/breaking-news/texas-officials-warn-of-possible-measles-exposure/nghQZ/ .

Ted Cruz pushes to undo 2012 deportation ban for young immigrants

WASHINGTON – Blaming a recent surge in young border-crossers on the president, Sen. Ted Cruz waded into the crisis Thursday with a bill to reverse a 2012 order protecting child migrants from deportation.

“The staggering conditions that children are being subjected to are a direct result of the amnesty that President Obama illegally and unilaterally enacted in 2012, which caused the number of unaccompanied minors to skyrocket,” Cruz said. “The only way to stop the border crisis is to stop President Obama’s amnesty.”

Obama ordered the policy — known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA – to shield immigrants brought into the country illegally as children, if they had earned good grades or served in the military.

Some critics blame the current crisis on that policy, saying it encouraged a fresh wave of illegal migration as word spread that young people could stay once they made it across the border — although the 2012 order excluded new arrivals.

More at http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2014/07/ted-cruz-pushes-to-undo-2012-deportation-ban-for-young-immigrants.html/ .

Scientology head can’t be forced to testify, Texas court rules

David Miscavige, head of the Church of Scientology, cannot be forced to testify in a harassment lawsuit filed by the wife of a prominent church critic who lives in Comal County, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that Monique Rathbun, who alleged that Scientologists conducted a three-year harassment campaign when her husband, Marty Rathbun, began speaking out against church activities, did not prove that Miscavige had “unique or superior knowledge” to offer in a deposition.

However, the court did not rule out the possibility that “additional, less intrusive means of discovery” could establish Rathbun’s right to force Miscavige to answer questions, under oath, in a future deposition.

Marty Rathbun is a former high-ranking member who left the Church of Scientology in 2004 and later accused Miscavige of physically and psychologically abusing other church members, court records show.

More at http://www.statesman.com/news/news/crime-law/scientology-head-cant-be-forced-to-testify-texas-c/nghR7/ .

Related thread:
Scientology Defector’s Epic Showdown Begins in New Braunfels Court

http://www.democraticunderground.com/107812059 (Sept. 2013)

Scientology judge scolds lawyers in New Braunfels (stalking case)
http://www.democraticunderground.com/107814958 (Feb. 2014)

Refugee or Alien, Sanctuary or Bar Code

By Carol Morgan

Ambivalence: Holding simultaneous and conflicting attitudes and emotions about a certain issue.

The refugee/immigrant/illegal alien issue is NOT an all-or-nothing-support-or-reject-issue. If you're an intelligent and reasonable person, you probably have some mixed feelings about this. Just like other Americans, swaying back and forth in this cognitive tug-of-war, I’ve been vacillating between sympathy and national self-interest for several days.

Regardless of party, most everyone is divided, but the GOP is acting unreasonably, as usual. They excoriated the President for not deporting the children fast enough, but when he requested $4 billion to do what they asked, they refused to kick in the emergency funding.

They complained about his providing temporary refuge to the children and families, ignoring the fact that the 2008 bipartisan anti-trafficking bill enacted under President Bush prevents any action. Yet, when he requests Congress’ action to alter the bill to expedite the system, they drag their feet.

They demand executive action, then threaten to sue and impeach him when he utilizes the option.

Obama cannot win and that’s exactly the way they like it.

It’s quite shameful that Texas politicians, more than any other state, are using this crisis as a way to score political points.

Greg Abbott is threating to sue Obama over it.

Our Governor claims there’s an Obama conspiracy in this.

Perry refused a photo-op with the President, but he had no problem donning a cowboy hat and guns for a photo-op with Sean Hannity. The mouth behind the pine curtain, Louis Gohmert, suggested the refugees be met with guns at the border.

But what did you expect? Remember these are kids, not fetuses, so we shouldn’t expect them to come to their defense.

Our own Congressman Randy Neugebauer did some personal and predictable chest-beating on Hannity’s show, but I’m not surprised at this. He’s flipped flopped around for over a year, reading from the script given to him by his donor-benefactors.

For Neugebauer, nothing says “I Believe in America” like having your son take the family company to Puerto Rico in order to evade taxes.

As usual, Americans view this crisis through a set of American-made lens. The reality is this: America is not the only country coping with a flood of refugees who are desperately escaping war, famine, corruption and death. Since March 2011, nine million Syrians have fled their homes to bordering countries like Turkey and Jordan.

50,000 refugees from Central America is tiny in comparison to nine million people running from the war in Syria. With Europe taking in a mere 4% of those leaving, it’s an unbelievable strain, both on the neighboring countries and the refugees.

Imagine the outcry if Syrian families, running from the bombs and butchery of Assad and the rebels, were turned away by Turkey and Jordan and forced to return?

Forced-migration from war, famine, corruption, and rebel groups is a global problem.

There is constant turmoil and unrest on the African continent; the Republic of Congo, Sudanese running to Ethiopia, Cameroon, and just a few days ago, almost 200 fans from Ghana requested religious asylum while attending the World Cup. Political unrest forces children to flee from Jakarta, hunger forces Bangladeshis to the large cities of India, there’s the religious unrest and violence in Myanmar, not to mention the thousands fleeing from the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

I want to laugh when I hear the speeches about America being the welcoming light in the Emma Lazarus poem. These orators are either lying or re-writing history. America has never welcomed immigrants with open arms. We may have allowed some to enter on work-visas or as a strategy to fill cheap worker shortages, but don’t kid yourself, it was for our benefit, not warm-hearted humanitarianism.

Americans are always demanding to know “what’s in it for me?”

Let’s be honest. America itself has been creating refugee crises for decades. Throughout history, America’s foreign policy echoes corporate policy. We have artificially propped up military coups, evil tyrants, and deranged murderers in the name of national security which, in reality, benefitted the military-industrial sector, energy companies, or multi-national corporations.

In the case of Central America, look no further than Dole, the leader in the banana and pineapple industry. Central America was a banana republic before that term became symbolic. All of it done in the name of cheap labor.

In the case of America, our foreign policy motto has always been: The enemy of the enemy is my friend…but only temporarily and to serve American purposes. There are too many examples to list, but it always comes back to bite us in the derriere. We are slow learners.

Even if we show a little compassion, we’re forced to justify that compassion in terms of economic benefit. Just this morning, the AJ Editorial Board lauded the decision to house the immigrants in Littlefield because it would bring jobs and economic benefit to Littlefield.

Economic benefit always greases the wheels of compassion, right? It makes it more politically correct and easier to swallow.

Some would argue it's just being practical. I suppose we’ll all be receiving our individual bar codes soon. It will let us know our true worth to the capitalist society we work so hard to serve.

It is so very American to think of human beings only in terms of dollars and cents.

The next cost analysis will show us how much each refugee is worth to us in economic benefit. Harsh? No, because this is way most Americans view everything. We already do it for our prisons and educational institutions.

The greatest Supreme Court Justice in history, Thurgood Marshall once remarked, “The measure of a country's greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.”

I suspect Justice Marshall would be shaking his head in disgust today.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m beginning to believe our leaders don’t know either. Unless of course, it involves monetary benefit—then they’re ready to listen.


Permission granted to repost this blog in its entirety.

Bergdahl hires lawyer for military investigation

Source: AP

WASHINGTON - The lawyer representing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl said Wednesday that his client has been vilified by some people, but the public should not leap to conclusions before the Army finishes its investigation into how and why the soldier left his post in Afghanistan before being captured by the Taliban.

Eugene R. Fidell, a well-known lawyer and military justice expert, told Associated Press Television News that he assumes the probe will be done in several weeks.

"There are people who have vilified Sgt. Bergdahl, there are people who attempted to turn him into a kind of piñata," said Fidell, who teaches at Yale Law School. "On the other hand, there are people of good will who have communicated with me their sympathy for the experience Sgt. Bergdahl has had to undergo, the ordeal really."

Some former members of the unit Bergdahl served with in Afghanistan have labeled him a deserter, asserting that he chose to walk away and saying some service members were wounded or killed looking for him.

Read more: http://www.caller.com/news/national/bergdahl-hires-lawyer-for-military-investigation

How Republicans Use Gerrymandering To Undermine Democracy & Subvert The Will Of The American People

NC-12, which snakes through the state looking for African-Americans, has a D+26 PVI

Last week, the whole country got a chance to look in behind the walls of the political sausage-making machine known as gerrymandering-- at least for Florida. A judge threw out the Republican Party gerrymander of congressional seats that was in direct violation of an amendment passed by 63% of Florida voters. "They were successful in their efforts to influence the redistricting process and the congressional plan under review here," he wrote. "And they might have successfully concealed their scheme and their actions from the public had it not been for the Plaintiffs' determined efforts to uncover it in this case."

So what about the rest of the country. There are several states much worse than Florida. Over the weekend Charles Babington, writing for the A.P., reported how Republicans cheat to keep an edge in blue-leaning states. Few places, for example, are as bad as North Carolina, where there is a Republican governor and where the gerrymandered state Senate has 32 Republicans and 18 Democrats and where the gerrymandered state House has 77 Republicans and just 43 Democrats. This in a state where there are 2,870,693 registered Democrats (42.3%), 2,052,250 registered Republicans (30.9%) and 1,726,245 (independents and others 26.0%). The Republicans in the state legislature managed to carve up the congressional districts in such a way that the 112th Congress' 7 Democrats and 6 Republicans is now, in the 113th Congress, 9 Republicans and just 4 Democrats. Presto!

Babington wrote that "Republicans and Democrats have engaged in gerrymandering for decades. Republicans refined the practice in 2011, a year after they won control of numerous state governments preparing to redraw congressional maps based on the 2010 census. It's one reason Republicans hold a solid House majority even though Americans cast 1.4 million more votes for Democratic House candidates than for GOP House candidates in 2012."

Republicans haven't controlled the White House or U.S. Senate for more than five years. Yet their House majority - now 234 to 199 - looks safe this fall. Redistricting episodes in Florida and North Carolina help explain why.

Republicans hold nine of North Carolina's 13 U.S. House seats, and they have solid prospects to make it 10. Their nominee is favored to win a district, which Obama lost by 19 percentage points, being vacated by centrist Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre. [Note: A.P. routinely refers to far right-wing Democrats like McIntyre as "centrists."]

In recent statewide elections, North Carolina has been about as evenly divided as a state can be. Obama narrowly won it once, and lost it once. Voters replaced a Democratic governor with a Republican in 2012. Each party has one U.S. senator, and this fall's re-election bid by Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is likely to be extremely close.

The House delegation makeup, by contrast, seems more fitting for a reliably Republican state, like Georgia perhaps.

The arrangement lacks "elemental fairness," said state Senate Democratic leader Dan Blue, moments after attacking Republican school-spending cuts at a Raleigh news conference. The nation's founders, Blue said, could not have envisioned congressional representation falling so out of balance with a state's overall political sentiment.

...Americans' mobility patterns also helped, as millions of liberals continue to move to urban areas. This so-called "self-gerrymandering" makes it easier for Republican mapmakers to pack as many Democratic voters as possible into a handful of districts. That helps Republicans win a larger number of districts by smaller but still-safe margins.

In North Carolina, Republican officials drew three House districts that twisted and snaked to include as many black neighborhoods, and other likely Democratic areas, as possible. In the 2012 elections, these three districts recorded overwhelming Democratic majorities. Obama lost the other 10 districts by margins ranging from 13 to 23 percentage points.

Republicans won their 9-4 U.S. House edge even as North Carolinians cast more votes for Democratic House candidates overall.

Democrats are asking the state Supreme Court to rule the redistricting unconstitutional. Black voters were packed so densely into three districts, they contend, that their overall political clout was unduly diminished.

…Democratic Rep. David Price, D-N.C., who has spent 25 years in Congress, sees political chicanery in North Carolina's U.S. House map.

"It's the most extreme gerrymandering, on a purely partisan basis, I think we've ever seen," Price said.

Price is correct that the gerrymandered districts are unfair. If the districts were fairly drawn, North Carolina would have 7 Democrats and 6 Republicans in Congress. But let's look at the other states where the GOP cheating is as bad or worse: Pennsylvania has 4,266,317 registered Democrats (50.1%), 3,131,144 registered Republicans (36.8%) and 1,110,554 registered Independents and others (13.1%). Currently there is a Republican governor and Republican control in both houses of the state legislature. They've managed to severely gerrymander the congressional districts so that the Republicans have 13 seats and the Democrats have 5. In a non-partisan redistricting, the Democrats would have 10 seats and the Republicans 8.

- See more at: http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2014/07/how-republicans-use-gerrymandering-to.html

Democrat Is Governor Pick of G.O.P. Group in Kansas

In a stark challenge to the re-election prospects of Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, more than 100 Republican politicians and former elected officials on Tuesday endorsed Paul Davis, his Democratic challenger.

Governor Brownback, who swept into office with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2010, faces an unexpectedly tough re-election this fall after spending much of his term pushing sharply conservative policies that have unsettled some members of his own party. Mr. Davis, a state legislator, has criticized Governor Brownback for his support of the largest income tax cuts in state history, cuts that sent revenues plummeting.

The group of 104 Republicans, which took the name Republicans for Kansas Values, included former mayors, a member of Congress and state representatives. They cited budget cuts to education and the income tax cuts as failed policies enacted by Mr. Brownback that have upset Kansas’ long history of cautious moderation.

“I think Sam’s experiment, as he’s called it, is backfiring on us,” Wint Winter, a banker and former state senator, said in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s gone way too far. We’re all very alarmed by the damage to our public schools, very alarmed by the damage to the state’s financial responsibility and very alarmed about the credit downgrade that Wall Street is paying attention to.”

More at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/us/politics/democrat-is-governor-pick-of-gop-group-in-kansas.html .

ROAAR for the Cats -- Exotic Cat Sanctuary Needs Help

Reach Out And Advocate Rest for the Cats! Yogie and Friends needs your help to remain open.

Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary was started in March of 1999 and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in May of 2000. We have held a class C exhibitor license from the USDA in good standing since the beginning of the sanctuary. Due to changes in the state laws, we applied for a non-AZA accredited zoo permit from the state so we could remain open as a sanctuary and allow visitors to come out and see the cats on Saturdays as we had in the past. However, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries declined our application - without it, we are not allowed to own the cats legally. As a result, they seized our cats on paper on July 14th. We must appear in court on September 3rd to fight for our right to keep these rescue animals home. We are raising funds to be able to afford the legal fees as well as to continue making necessary upgrades to the sanctuary. Scroll down for a detailed list of what money we need and where it will go.

Some quick facts about Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary:

We are the only cat sanctuary in Louisiana.
We have thirteen cats currently living at the sanctuary. Our youngest is 8 and our oldest is almost 20!
We work with local partners to care for the cats, including girl scouts, area schools, local farmers and ranchers, and local businesses.
We have both a webpage and a Facebook page. We love for our fans and supporters to stay involved and take tons of video and photos of our cats for you to browse through.
We are 100% volunteer run and donation funded. None of the people who work with Yogie and Friends make a single penny for doing so. All of our income goes straight to caring for the cats.

We need your help to keep these animals in their homes. The cats cannot speak for themselves. We have been their caretakers and their voices for over a decade and now we need you to add your voice to ours and ROAAR for the cats. Even if you are financially unable to assist us, help us ROAAR by sharing this campaign with friends and family. Every person we reach out and contact increases the chance that these cats can live out the remainder of their lives in the peace of their sanctuary home.

More at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/roaar-for-the-cats .

Oil and gas interests are big donors to GOP Railroad Commissioner candidate

AUSTIN—Oil and gas interests pumped big money into a candidate’s campaign coffers, new campaign finance reports revealed.

Top executives and political action committees associated with oil and gas companies in the state donated more than $150,000 to Ryan Sitton, the Republican nominee for the Texas Railroad Commissioner, which regulates the oil and gas industry. The donations from industry associates accounted for more than half of the total Sitton received.

Sitton, an oil and gas engineer and business owner from Houston, outraised Democratic nominee Steve Brown more than ten-fold. Sitton tallied nearly $290,000 in donations and had about $100,000 cash on hand.

Brown, a former Democratic Party chairman, pulled in just over $27,700. He had about $5,000 cash on hand.

More at http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2014/07/oil-and-gas-interests-donate-big-to-rrc-candidate.html/ .

[font color=green]Not really news since we know that the GOP has bought and paid elected representatives for years.[/font]

Texas Tech to reinstate Bethel to football team; altercation with female basketball player on video.

Nigel Bethel III, an incoming freshman corner back, has been reinstated to the Texas Tech football team.

Texas Tech announced at a press conference Wednesday that he will serve a three-game suspension for his involvment in an incident at the Tech student recreation center on June 28.

"This is an unfortunate situation with a unique set of circumstances and there are no winners," said Kirby Hocutt, Director of Athletics in a Texas Tech news release. "Every decision related to this case has been the right one at that particular time based upon our principles, student-athlete code of conduct and team rules. As I continued to work with Coach Kingsbury and Coach Whitaker, we looked at the totality of the situation and have arrived at this decision. Two talented young people made a mistake, have shown remorse and learned some very valuable life lessons."

Battle, a senior on the women's basketball team, has been suspended for the month of November for her role in the incident with Bethel.

"I'm relieved that Nigel is receiving a second chance because I believe in second chances," Battle said in the release. "We were both at fault in this situation and I believe our punishment should be equal. This is a good opportunity for us to learn from our mistakes and I think we both have. Hopefully now we can move forward and focus on helping our teams compete at the highest level."

The complete story, including video, is at http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2014-07-16/bethel-reinstated-will-serve-3-game-suspension#.U8b5nLFCz2Q .

Related thread:
Texas Tech Football Prospect Punches Female Basketball Player in Pickup Game

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