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Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 76,948

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

North Texas reps are pushing for a new Dallas-Fort Worth area VA hospital

WASHINGTON -- Veterans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area may soon have another place to go for health care if a group of House Republican and Democratic lawmakers succeed.

Dallas and Fort Worth members of Congress sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie this week, urging the VA to consider opening a new clinic in a currently vacant hospital facility in Garland.

A new clinic in Garland could lower the average wait time at veterans’ health facilities in the area and would provide a new, more accessible location for veterans who live on the northern side of the Metroplex, said Rep. Ron Wright, an Arlington Republican who helped write the letter with Rep. Colin Allred, a Dallas-area Democrat. The letter was signed by five other North Texas representatives.

The 470,000 square foot hospital facility was a Baylor Scott and White health center. The Dallas-based company closed the location in early 2018 because of a dramatic decline in patient volume. The company, which still owns the building, is willing to donate the facility to the VA.

Read more: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article233170571.html

Rand Paul is pushing a bourbon tax break - but how will he pay for it?

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Rand Paul publicly demanded spending cuts before he’d vote for legislation providing health care to 9/11 first responders. So when he signed on the next day to an effort to give bourbon makers in his home state of Kentucky a tax break, critics wanted to know how it would be paid for.

Paul’s spokeswoman said it will be, but no specifics beyond a pledge to provide details later year were offered this week when he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the bourbon break in a Wednesday press release.

Paul and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, were the only senators Tuesday to oppose making permanent the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund which pays out claims for illnesses and deaths related to the aftermath of the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Paul held up speedy passage of the bill to protest its lack of any way to pay for the measure.

Then came the bourbon bill. Paul said Thursday that critics accusing him of being hypocritical were wrong.

Read more: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article233118925.html

2020 Democrats keep shifting left. Moderates fret they'll shift even further at next debate

Bob Buckhorn remembers sitting at home in Florida last month watching the first Democratic presidential debate — and openly worrying about what he was seeing.

The former centrist Democratic mayor of Tampa said the candidates were lurching much too far to the left on key policy issues, damaging the party’s chances of defeating President Donald Trump during next year’s election.

“I don’t think most Americans are comfortable with some of what they heard last debate,” Buckhorn said. “And I think it’s unfortunate.”

Buckhorn’s view is a common one among moderate Democrats. In interviews, many of them expressed deep concern that this week’s debate in Detroit will feature another inevitable shift to the left, one that will alienate swing voters in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Read more: https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/campaigns/article233177051.html

Bishop Defends Assertion That Gays are Created When a Pregnant Woman Enjoys Anal Sex

A Cypriot bishop claims that gay people are created in the womb if a man performs anal sex on a straight pregnant woman but only if she enjoys it.

The Most Reverend Metropolitan Neophytos of Morfou of the Church of Cyprus made the remarks in a speech to a group of people in Akaki. His remarks were confirmed by the Cypriot LGBTQ rights group Accept.

Said the bishop: “Homosexuality is usually a problem transferred to a fetus, when a pregnant woman has anal sex and enjoys it. It happens during the parent’s intercourse or pregnancy. It follows an abnormal sexual act between the parents. To be more clear, anal sex.”

The bishop claimed that when the woman enjoys anal sex, “a desire is created, which is then transmitted to the unborn child.”

Read more: https://www.towleroad.com/2019/07/bishop-cyprus/

Sweden's Economy Unexpectedly Contracts in Blow to Central Bank

Sweden’s economy unexpectedly shrank in the second quarter, casting further doubts on the Riksbank’s plans to continue to raise rates.

Gross domestic product contracted 0.1% in the second quarter from the first, according to preliminary numbers from Statistics Sweden Tuesday. Economists had predicted an expansion of 0.3%. Annual growth was 1.4% while economists and the Riksbank had predicted an expansion of 1.9% and 1.8%, respectively.

Key Insights

• According to Statistics Sweden, the quarterly contraction was mainly caused by gross fixed capital formation, which decreased by 1.1%. Exports and imports decreased by 0.3% and 0.5%, respectively, while household consumption grew by 0.6%.

• The data, which was released early as a result of a mistake at the statistics agency, comes after first-quarter numbers showed that the economy expanded three times faster than estimated at the beginning of the year.

• The Riksbank earlier this month said it still expects to hike rates toward the end of this year or early next year, though many economists doubt it will be able to do so given a slowing economy. Minutes from the meeting also showed that policy makers are growing increasingly uncertain about the planned hike as the world’s major central banks prepare to add more stimulus and growth cools.

• The preliminary second-quarter GDP data is published by Statistics Sweden to provide the government with figures for its autumn budget work. The so-called flash estimate has historically been subject to large revisions when final data is published in September.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-30/sweden-s-economy-unexpectedly-contracts-in-blow-to-central-bank

Citi to Cut Hundreds of Trading Jobs in Bad Sign for Wall Street

Citigroup Inc. is preparing to cut hundreds of jobs in its trading division -- stark new evidence that an industrywide slump in revenue this year may be more permanent than the tweets and policy moves rattling clients.

The New York-based bank plans to slash jobs across its fixed-income and stock-trading operations over the course of 2019, according to people familiar with the matter. That includes at least 100 jobs in the equities unit, which would amount to almost 10% of the division’s workforce, said the people, who asked not to be named because details aren’t public.

For months, as global banks watched their revenue from trading slump, industry leaders have said clients were temporarily taking to the “sidelines” amid unpredictable twists in President Donald Trump’s trade negotiations and the Federal Reserve’s shifting stance on interest rates. Yet a growing number of banks are now cutting staff, a sign that executives are worried about more permanent challenges.

“This won’t be the last trading-related job cuts story,” Jeff Harte, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill, said in a telephone interview. “The rest of Wall Street is thinking the same way.”

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-29/citigroup-plans-to-cut-hundreds-of-trading-jobs-as-revenue-falls

Parents Are Giving Up Custody of Their Kids to Get Need-Based College Financial Aid

Dozens of suburban Chicago families, perhaps many more, have been exploiting a legal loophole to win their children need-based college financial aid and scholarships they would not otherwise receive, court records and interviews show.

Coming months after the national “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal, this tactic also appears to involve families attempting to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive and expensive college admissions system.

Parents are giving up legal guardianship of their children during their junior or senior year in high school to someone else — a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparent. The guardianship status then allows the students to declare themselves financially independent of their families so they can qualify for federal, state and university aid, a ProPublica Illinois investigation found.

“It’s a scam,” said Andy Borst, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Wealthy families are manipulating the financial aid process to be eligible for financial aid they would not be otherwise eligible for. They are taking away opportunities from families that really need it.”

Read more: https://www.propublica.org/article/university-of-illinois-financial-aid-fafsa-parents-guardianship-children-students

When It Comes to Transportation Infrastructure, No Bill Is Better Than a Bad Bill

This Congress and President Trump have been unable to develop and enact a new federal infrastructure bill after nearly three years of fits, starts, and jokes about “Infrastructure Week” (I have called it “Infrastructure Weak”). This failure is not surprising given the current political dynamics. But you may be surprised to learn that this former state transportation secretary was, and remains, delighted that Washington wasn’t able to come up with a new bill.

It’s not that we don’t need one: Innovative federal transportation proposals are important and overdue, but no bill is better than a bad bill. Based on what we know about the mindset of most of the current decision-makers, every indication thus far is that they would have enacted a very bad bill into law. A bad bill would be one that adheres to the president’s original template, which was nothing more than public-private partnerships on steroids. I’m not philosophically against such partnerships, but their utility is limited and their functionality is largely tied to automobility. A bad bill would also be one that relies on the same approaches to funding that were used to help build the auto-centric transportation system of the 20th century, one that retains the same constrained thinking that has made every prior federal bill a boon for cars and roads.

My pessimism has roots in comments made earlier this year by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who upon leaving the White House after one of the president’s periodic calls for an infrastructure bill described a “big bold” transportation bill to mean one that provided federal investment in “roads, bridges, and highways.” That was it; not one single word about transit, or any form of public transportation or sustainable mobility.

Was Schumer using a mere rhetorical shorthand to describe the full breadth of investment opportunities to be provided, or was his vision for a “bold bill” really a throwback to mid-20th-century conventional thinking? One would expect a clearer and more forward-looking approach from a senator representing a highly urban Northeastern state. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to her credit, spoke at the same time about “getting people out of their cars, not being on the road so much.”

Read more: https://prospect.org/article/when-it-comes-transportation-infrastructure-no-bill-better-bad-bill
(American Prospect)

State revenue surplus paints a pretty fiscal picture -- but with a catch

How’s the state economy doing? Pretty well, according to a variety of sources. The state just released its end-of-fiscal year revenue numbers, and Vermont’s general fund revenues exceeded expectations by nearly $60 million and came in about 7% above last year’s tally.

Most of that $60 million was due to better than expected revenues from the corporate and personal income taxes. Corporate income taxes are notoriously hard to predict, and most come from the fortunes of a handful of large businesses.

Healthy personal income tax revenues mean Vermonters’ incomes grew nicely, but that revenue growth is probably also due to the 2017 federal income tax changes that reduced the ability of high-income taxpayers to deduct state and local tax payments from their federal income taxes. That means they paid more in federal and state taxes than they otherwise would have. Good news in the short run, but it also gives high income taxpayers a good reason to move to states with lower property taxes and lower, or no, state income taxes. Like Florida or New Hampshire.

We don’t really know how much of the higher income tax revenues are due to the tax law changes or from higher income growth. At any rate, state personal income tax collections were up more than 5%. And the personal income tax raises nearly $900 million for the state, almost two-thirds of all general fund revenues.

Read more: https://vtdigger.org/2019/07/29/woolf-state-revenue-surplus-paints-a-pretty-fiscal-picture-but-with-a-catch/

19 arrested as hundreds protest ICE in Williston

WILLISTON – Hundreds of Vermonters protested against immigration detentions and conditions Sunday outside of the Department of Homeland Security’s Law Enforcement Support Center. The demonstration ended with a road block resulting in 19 arrests.

Demonstrators started gathering around 3 p.m. at Vermont Technical College and marched down to 188 Harvest Lane in Williston, a nondescript brick office building where Immigration and Customs Enforcement operates a tip line.

The march briefly slowed traffic as an estimated 750 people, according to organizers, waved signs calling for the reunification of migrant families, an end to immigration raids and deportations, and the closure of detention facilities that have been criticized for poor conditions.

Ashley Smith, one of the organizers of the event, said activists came together for an organizing meeting after a similar event on Church Street earlier this month. The group decided to plan another demonstration followed by civil disobedience.

Read more: https://vtdigger.org/2019/07/29/19-arrested-as-hundred-protest-ice-in-williston/
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