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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: 78,353

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

Austin Equity Office proposes renaming 7 Confederate streets - and even the city itself

The Equity Office is recommending the city remove or change the names of streets, parks and markers in Austin that honor the Confederate States of America and slavery.

The office also suggests eschewing the name “Austin” altogether, as Stephen F. Austin fought to defend slavery in the Texas Revolution and supported the institution after the state gained its independence from Mexico. In a memo, it states:

(Austin) fought to defend slavery in spite of Mexico’s effort to ban it; believed slave labor indispensable for Texas to flourish in its production of sugar and cotton; believed that if slaves were emancipated they would turn into “vagabonds, a nuisance and a menace.” Wanted slaveowners to be compensated if their slaves were emancipated.

The Equity Office released its recommendations today after City Council asked it to examine the issue in October. It labels seven streets as “high priority” for renaming:

Littlefield Street
Tom Green Street
Sneed Cove
Reagan Hill Drive
Dixie Drive
Plantation Road
Confederate Avenue

Read more: https://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2018/07/equity-office-proposes-renaming-7-confederate-streets-and-even-the-city-itself/

Any suggestions for a new name for Austin?

Fetal Burial Trial Concludes

Five-day trial into draconian law yields no indication from judge on eventual ruling

Legal arguments over the state's latest anti-choice law – part of 2017's Senate Bill 8 – concluded Friday. Abortion providers challenging a law that would force women to bury or cremate their fetal tissue after an abortion or miscarriage argued the law would infringe on their patients' personal beliefs, shame them, and add barriers to care. Current law requires fetal tissue to be incinerated and disposed of in a landfill, or ground up and placed in a sewage system, but anti-choice politicians say that method of disposal lacks "respect" for the unborn.

In a departure even noted by presiding U.S. Judge David Ezra, state attorneys opted against arguing for any medical benefit to the law, and instead insisted that the new disposal method offers needed "dignity" to the fetal and embryonic remains, a wildly subjective measure. The "unusual" change in defense of a reproductive rights law, said Ezra, makes the case "extremely unique" and also makes finding precedent "all the more difficult," since claims of health and safety are typically "paramount" in abortion law cases.

Abortion providers' attorney J. Alexander Law­rence told me after the trial that the courts – which have blocked similar laws in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Indiana – have made clear that the state's interest in promoting fetal life does not outweigh the barriers that the law would impose on a woman's constitutional right to abortion. "You have to measure the benefits and the burdens, and the burden here is intended for no other purpose than to stigmatize women who choose abortion," he said.

In a ruling issued last year, Indiana Judge Tanya Walton Pratt struck down that state's law, signed in 2016 under then-Gov. Mike Pence, saying precedent didn't recognize a fetus as a human being, and so abortion providers shouldn't be forced to treat fetal remains as such: "f the law does not recognize a fetus as a person, there can be no legitimate state interest in requiring an entity to treat an aborted fetus the same as a deceased human," wrote the judge. Whether or not an individual "views fetal tissue as essentially the same as human remains is each person's own personal and moral decision."

Read more: https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2018-07-27/fetal-burial-trial-concludes/

Video: Constituents Get Kicked Out of Dave Brat "Open House" for Absolutely No Good Reason

Video: Constituents Get Kicked Out of Dave Brat “Open House” for Absolutely No Good Reason (Also Offered Cupcakes – LOL)

See below for multiple accounts of people who were kicked out Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA07)’s “Open House” last night for absolutely no good reason. As the person who contacted me about this wrote:

“My husband and I were invited to Dave Brat’s open house last night, by email. We registered and received tickets. We were admitted but then almost immediately intercepted and asked to leave. After stating we did nothing wrong and didn’t even utter a negative word, they called the police in from outside to remove us…What I understand about the event is that there were at least three others (including a member of the clergy) that experienced the exact same thing.”

Now, here’s another account (bolding added by me for emphasis).

On July 19th, I received an email invitation to attend the Open House for Dave Brat on July 27th. As Mr. Brat has been unreachable, both my husband and I felt that this would be a good opportunity to meet and chat with him for a few seconds.

For me, having him understand that, for me, the ACA has been a lifesaver was very important. I’ve had an irregular heart beat my entire life. In the 30+ years I ran social service agencies, I was always covered by the insurance I purchased for all employees. As such, I didn’t expect to find it virtually impossible to get insurance when I retired at age 55 in 2011. My husband, who owns his own insurance company, was also covered under my policy.

Read more: https://bluevirginia.us/2018/07/video-constituents-get-kicked-out-of-dave-brat-open-house-for-absolutely-no-good-reason-also-offered-cupcakes-lol


Why Trump Should Be Blamed, Not Praised, for the High GDP Growth

Generally, voters give a President credit for an expanding economy. Much of the time, that’s like the old Chinese Emperors being praised or blamed for the occurrence or non-occurrence of earthquakes, droughts, etc. That’s because the role the President plays in how the economy is functioning, and where in the business cycle we find ourselves, is quite limited.

But in the case of Donald Trump, and the recent news that the economy grew by 4.1% last quarter, the situation may be different. The Trump administration has indeed acted in ways that helped elevate that number.

But here’s the thing: The expansionary steps that Trump and his administration have taken are reprehensible, and their costs far exceed their benefits. Not credit, but blame is what Trump deserves even here.

1) Trump signed a terrible tax bill. It was mostly the doing of the Republicans in Congress, but Trump signed on. It was terrible not only because it increased wealth inequality in America, but also because it was a stimulus at the most stupid and destructive of times in the business cycle.

Read more: https://bluevirginia.us/2018/07/why-trump-should-be-blamed-not-praised-for-the-high-gdp-growth

CNN Moves VA-02 (Elaine Luria), VA-07 (Abigail Spanberger) In a "Blue" Direction, to "Toss-Up"

CNN Moves VA-02 (Elaine Luria), VA-07 (Abigail Spanberger) In a “Blue” Direction, to “Toss-Up”; VA-10 (Jennifer Wexton) and VA-05 (Leslie Cockburn) Also Looking Promising

In case you missed it, this morning CNN moved two Congressional races in Virginia in a “blue” direction:

VA-02: “Complicating Taylor’s bid is the potential for down-ballot drag from Corey Stewart’s position atop the GOP ticket in Virginia this fall. Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, has been critical of Stewart, saying he has “zero shot” at defeating Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine based on the campaign he’s running. If some GOP voters stay home because they object to Stewart’s hardline politics, Taylor’s chances could take a hit. Race moves from Lean Republican to Toss-Up”

VA-07: “In 2016, Trump carried the 7th District by six points — 50% to 44%. Northam lost the district by less than four points in 2017. Brat will face Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operations officer. She outraised Brat by more than $140,000 in the second quarter, though he has nearly double the cash on hand — $917,000 to $465,000. Like in the 2nd District, Stewart could also be a factor in this race. Race moves from Lean Republican to Toss-Up”

Obviously, this is good news – both “purple” districts moving to “Toss-Up” status, according to CNN. Also note that Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” now has VA-02 and VA-07 as “Toss-Up” as well, while the Cook Political Report has VA-07 as “Toss-Up,” VA-02 as “Lean Republican” and VA-05 (Democrat Leslie Cockburn vs. Republican Denver Riggleman) as “Lean Republican.” As for VA-10 (Democrat Jennifer Wexton vs. Rep. Barbara Comstock), all three analysts (Cook, CNN, Sabato) have it as “Lean Democratic.”

Read more: https://bluevirginia.us/2018/07/cnn-moves-va-02-elaine-luria-va-07-abigail-spanberger-in-a-blue-direction-to-toss-up

Chesapeake Bay clean-up: Pennsylvania lagging in reducing pollution

The federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a largely positive assessment Friday of efforts to stem the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution into the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States.

Cutting those pollutants from farms, sewage treatment plants and municipal and suburban stormwater systems has been key to the recovery of the bay and the bounty of oysters, crabs and striped bass it produces.

“Collectively, the bay watershed jurisdictions have made considerable progress in reducing pollution to the bay and the local waters that lead to the bay,” the EPA said. “That progress has been demonstrated in measurable ways, including record acreage of underwater grasses and the highest estimates of water quality standards attained in more than 30 years.”

There was some rain on that parade, however. Looking at you, Pennsylvania.

Though the Keystone State has removed 17 waterbodies in the Susquehanna River watershed from the impaired waters listing for nutrients and/or sediment, the EPA said, the state is way off track in meeting goals to reduce agricultural and suburban and urban runoff.

Read more: https://www.virginiamercury.com/blog/chesapeake-bay-clean-up-pennsylvania-lagging-in-reducing-pollution/

The Chesapeake Bay watershed. Image from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Cumberland landfill, fiercely opposed by locals, would be state's first new mega dump in two decades

CUMBERLAND COUNTY — A Virginia political issue largely consigned to the dust heap of history in the late 1990s resurfaced this June when the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors voted to allow plans to go forward for the construction of a mega-landfill just a mile from the Cumberland–Powhatan border.

If the company behind the project, County Waste of Virginia, succeeds in obtaining a permit from the state Department of Environmental Quality to operate the proposed Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, Virginia will become home to an eighth mega-landfill, meaning a facility can accept more than 3,500 tons of waste per day.

The last new Virginia landfill of that size opened in 1997, according to state records.

Cumberland residents, like those before them who live near Virginia’s seven other mega-landfill communities, appear largely opposed to the venture, describing themselves as “blindsided” by a project that was approved by county leaders a mere 35 days after it was made public.

Their leaders themselves are split on the issue, with Green Ridge obtaining a narrow approval in a 3–2 vote after a marathon meeting that stretched into the early hours of June 29.

Read more: https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/07/24/cumberland-landfill-fiercely-opposed-by-locals-would-be-states-first-new-mega-dump-in-two-decades/

Federal appeals court vacates Mountain Valley Pipeline approvals

In a significant victory for environmental groups and other opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond has vacated approvals that allowed the 300-mile natural gas pipeline, which is currently under construction, to cross the Jefferson National Forest near the Virginia-West Virginia border.

In response to a case brought by a group of organizations opposed to the project, a panel of judges ruled that the U.S. Forest Service and the federal Bureau of Land Management’s decisions ran afoul of the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act and the Mineral Leasing Act.

“MVP’s proposed project would be the largest pipeline of its kind to cross the Jefferson National Forest,” the opinion says. “American citizens understandably place their trust in the Forest Service to protect and preserve this country’s forests, and they deserve more than silent acquiescence to a pipeline company’s justification for upending large swaths of national forestlands.”

Nathan Matthews, an attorney with the Sierra Club, one of the groups that brought the case, called the decision “great news” for “everyone who cares about clean water and pristine forests.” The decision comes as MVP, which is planned to run from Wetzel County, W.V., to Pittsylvania County in southwest Virginia, has racked up a string of violations from environmental regulators in Virginia and West Virginia.

Read more: https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/07/27/federal-appeals-court-vacates-mountain-valley-pipeline-approvals/

Note: The Virginia Mercury site is a new collaboration of experienced journalists that have left other newspapers in the state.

Harvey Weinstein's Insurers Balk at Paying His Legal Bills

NEW YORK (AP) — Harvey Weinstein is locked in a messy battle with insurance companies over his steadily mounting legal bills.

The insurance giant Chubb and other carriers that wrote liability policies for Weinstein and his film company are arguing in court that they shouldn't have to pay for his defense against allegations of rape and sexual harassment.

The policies, they have written in court filings, specifically excluded coverage for "such blatantly egregious and intentionally harmful acts."

"Mr. Weinstein has nevertheless repeatedly attempted to foist his defense of these lawsuits upon the plaintiff insurers," lawyers for the companies wrote.

Read more: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-york/articles/2018-07-29/harvey-weinsteins-insurers-balk-at-paying-his-legal-bills

Booming veteran tax exemption crippling Bell County area governments

KILLEEN -- On June 19, 2009, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill that was a sweeping win for both sides of the aisle at the 81st Texas Legislature in Austin.

House Bill 3613, which eliminated homestead property taxes for veterans with a 100 percent disability rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was unanimously approved by the Texas House and Senate before reaching the governor’s desk. In 2011, the Legislature passed an equally successful bill extending that exemption to the spouses of 100 percent disabled veterans.

When the initial exemption went live in fiscal 2010, the effect was minor. Within a couple years, it developed into a major issue for governments surrounding Fort Hood, the most-populous military installation in Texas and a draw for veterans exiting the Army.

“Every bill starts as a good idea and then goes south from there,” said John Fisher, a Bell County commissioner whose district covers Killeen — ground zero of Bell County’s exemption explosion.

Read more: http://kdhnews.com/news/local/exclusive-booming-veteran-tax-exemption-crippling-area-governments/article_76313e1e-92b6-11e8-98b2-7fb78c54d07c.html
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