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TexasTowelie

Profile Information

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: 73,882

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

These Are Heady Times for Glass Blowers' High Art

Like many devoted artists, Luken Sheafe has spent years perfecting his craft, shaping rods of multicolored glass into intricate mythological creatures that sell for thousands of dollars.

But unlike many peers, Mr. Sheafe has never had a major exhibition, because his chosen medium is the glass pipe—an object typically displayed in head shops, not art galleries.

That is starting to change. Now that marijuana has been legalized for medical purposes in 20 states, and for recreation in Washington and Colorado, makers of what is known as "heady glass" are showcasing their work in art books and public competitions.

"The fact that they are pipes is relative to the discussion of contemporary art and the American cultural landscape as a whole," says Mr. Sheafe, 32 years old, of his works, which he makes in Austin and sells under the moniker Salt.

More, including video, at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323968704578650500057479398.html .

Posted by TexasTowelie | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 12:32 AM (2 replies)

Payouts finally begin for investors swindled in R. Allen Stanford's $7 billion Ponzi scheme

Source: AP

HOUSTON — Investors in a $7 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by convicted ex-Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford have begun getting back some of what they lost after a recovery process that has dragged on for more than 4˝ years.

However, the amounts being returned to many who lost their life savings ultimately will be only a pittance of their investments — about 1 percent of what they put in. The largest claim being paid out in the first distribution of funds to victims of Stanford's scheme is about $50,000, while the smallest is $2.81. Many of the claims seemed to be in the range of $1,000 to $4,000, according to court documents filed late last month.

British retiree Kate Freeman, who lost $820,000 in the scheme, said she and other investors continue to be frustrated by the slowness of the recovery process.

"After nearly five years, it's just the biggest disappointment — isn't it? — that this is all we're getting," Freeman, in her late 50s, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from her home in Antigua.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/business/headlines/20130903-payouts-finally-begin-for-investors-swindled-in-r.-allen-stanford-s-7-billion-ponzi-scheme.ece
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 11:22 PM (0 replies)

Watch out South Texas and RGV: Teddy is coming to town (updated 9/7/2013)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is beginning a two-day tour of the lower Texas-Mexico border to tout his record in the U.S. Senate and talk about border security.

The freshman Texas Republican senator also will continue his campaign to press Congress to defund programs of the Affordable Health Care Act in stops in Mission, McAllen and Laredo.

Cruz begins the tour with his Mission and McAllen stops on Tuesday, followed by a stop in Laredo on Wednesday.

More at http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/politics/Sen-Ted-Cruz-Begins-2-Day-Border-Tour-222147161.html .

[font color=green]I believe that qualifies as a Maalox moment.[/font]

[font color=navy]UPDATE:

No Shame for "Sell Out" Ted Cruz As He Visits South Texas Border Region for the First Time


In a region that is burdened with the highest healthcare cost in the country and whose economy depends heavily on immigration and strong trade policies, one would think any decent human being with a soul in their heart would abstain from preaching to the people here that everything they believe in is absolutely wrong, and would avoid making it a point in his very first visit as a guest, that as their U.S. Senator, he will do everything in his power to take these things away from them so that they may further dwell in poverty.

That decent human being is not Ted Cruz.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz made stops in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo this week, as he continues his tour of town hall meetings across the State of Texas.

The events in South Texas were not open to the public, however. Those who wanted to see Cruz speak and ask him questions would have to pay. At his luncheon in Mission, Texas, each table cost $500 dollars and only 35 tables were available at the location.

Over two dozen protesters from La Union del Pueblo Entero were outside the establishment waiting for Cruz. One protester had an inflatable floating doll representing Cruz with the words "Vendido," meaning sell out in Spanish. This is a possible reference to Cruz's immigrant and Hispanic roots, yet extremely hypocritical opposition to immigration reform.[/font]

More at http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/14039/no-shame-for-ted-cruz-as-he-visits-south-texas-border-region-for-the-first-time .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 04:43 PM (2 replies)

Texas National Guard defies Pentagon, refuses to process same-sex benefits

AUSTIN — The Texas National Guard refused to process requests from same-sex couples for benefits on Tuesday, citing the state constitution’s ban on gay marriage, despite a Pentagon directive to do so.

Pentagon officials said Texas appeared to be the only state that planned to turn gay and lesbian couples away on Tuesday, the first working day that gays in the military may apply for benefits. The Department of Defense had announced it would recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal following the U.S. Supreme Court decision throwing out the Defense of Marriage Act.

Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the commanding general of Texas Military Forces, wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that because the Texas Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, his state agency couldn’t process applications from gay and lesbian couples. But he said the Texas National Guard, Texas Air Guard and Texas State Guard would not deny anyone benefits.

“However, the (Texas Military Forces) remains committed to ensuring its military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we encourage anyone affected by this issue to enroll for benefits at a federal installation,” he advised service members. He then listed 22 bases operated by the Department of Defense in Texas where service members could enroll their families.

More at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20130903-texas-national-guard-defies-pentagon-refuses-to-process-same-sex-benefits.ece .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 04:26 PM (4 replies)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Part One: What It Is and Isn't

By Dr. Brian Carr
President, Behavioral Health Associates, Lubbock, Texas, 1991-Present
Chairman, City of Lubbock Board of Health, 2013
Submitted on September 3, 2013 - 7:12am


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as “Obamacare”) has been labeled the most important piece of health-related legislation in U.S. history. Nearly 500 provisions are contained in the ACA legislation. With this law America provides a means for all of our citizens to be able to access health care and not be afraid of becoming sick or disabled.

According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of Americans said they were “confused” by the ACA provisions. Too often we only hear the anger of those who oppose the law while not offering any sense of exactly what they are opposed to or what the alternative might be.

I spent time over the holiday reviewing the ACA provisions and the changes that will result in our health care industry. My plan is to present the essential components of the ACA over the next few weeks in my lubbockonline blog. It is not my purpose here to debate the “good” or “bad” of the law but more to help the reader understand the basic components and what has already been implemented and what will be rolling out in the coming months and years.

The ACA targets major problems in the existing system

Four Principle Goals

1. Give Americans greater access to healthcare. With about 37 million American citizens without health insurance coverage it is essential that we change the model of service delivery so that care is improved. For many in this group they simply cannot afford to purchase health insurance coverage. For others they are not able to obtain coverage because of pre-existing conditions. The ACA provides a means to be included in the healthcare system, either by increasing access to Medicaid for those at the lower earning levels or through subsidized health insurance via exchanges operated by the state or federal government.

2. Control or reduce healthcare costs. The current fee-for-service delivery model tends to drive up costs as the quantity of care is the result over the quality of care.

3. Provide for greater consumer protection and benefits that maximize a healthy lifestyle. These new safeguards and benefits provide for better regulation of the health insurance industry and require more transparency of how these carriers manage the premiums they take in and where the money goes. It presents insurance companies from dropping your coverage after you get sick because you made a minor error when you filled out your application. The carrier can no longer refuse to extend you coverage because you have a pre-existing health condition or charge you a higher premium because you’re older or have a chronic disease. Coverage can no longer have annual or lifetime limits.

4. Providing for an emphasis on prevention and wellness programs that help to maximize healthy lifestyles and reduced utilization of healthcare services.





The ACA at the Individual Level

For a person who currently has health insurance through their employer the ACA is a “mixed bag”. The law adds new consumer benefits and protections. A potential negative is whether your employer will continue to offer health insurance to you and your family. A telling point for this possible action is whether your job exists in a competitive market where such benefits are used to attract productive employees.

For the person who is uninsured, the ACA is good news. If you have a low income, you will either be able to enroll in Medicaid or qualify for a subsidized insurance plan through your state’s healthcare exchange. If you have a high income, you will also be able to buy a plan through an exchange, and its price will probably be better than what you would have to pay on the private insurance market today.

For those who have a high income the ACA represents an increase in taxes. There is a 3.8 percent ACA surtax on capital gains above $250,000 (for married couples). Single Americans who earn above $200,000 per year (or $250,000 for couples) will see the amount they pay in taxes for Medicare increase from the current 1.45 percent level to 2.35 percent above those income thresholds. Medicare beneficiaries with higher income will also be required to pay higher Part D premiums. A 40% tax will also be imposed above a specific threshold level for premiums on so-called “Cadillac” health insurance plans with enhanced benefit packages that some big earners now enjoy.

For working families the consumer protections and benefits provided by the ACA will help.

The ACA is of great assistance to the poor in America. Under the new law the income requirement to get into Medicaid is raised to 133 percent of the federal poverty line. An estimated 15 million more people will be able to get coverage as a result of the ACA, and low-income earners will still can’t get into Medicaid will qualify for government subsidies offered on the new state exchanges.

If you are concerned about those who are residing in the United States without proper documentation proving they are here legally being able to access any of the new benefits that come with the ACA don’t worry. This group will not be able to buy health insurance nor will they be allowed into the Medicaid or Medicare program.

For those who work for a large business there is a legitimate fear that their employer may drop their insurance. The key issue is whether you work for a large business such as McDonald’s, which pays low wages and does not need a health insurance benefit to attract workers or are employed by a business that sees health insurance benefits as of vital importance to compete effectively in the work place for skilled employees.

Small businesses benefit more from the ACA because of significant tax breaks they will receive against the amount they pay in health insurance premiums for their workers. Small businesses have historically had to pay significantly more than large businesses to insure their workers, not only in premiums, but also in administrative costs. The new ACA health exchanges create more of a level playing field and small businesses could realize large financial benefits.

Next: Understanding the current Healthcare System

TAGS:

LubbockOnline Blog
ACA
bend over and take a deep breath
healthcare
Insurance
Lubbock
ObamaCare
Perry has his hair covered
snake pit
Texas
We don't need no stinkin' health reform

http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/dr-brian-carr/2013-09-03/patient-protection-and-affordable-care-act-part-one-what

Cross-posted in Texas Group.

[font color=green]You might also want to read the comments at 10:31 a.m. by Jeff Ross who is an assistant professor of psychology at South Plains College and a prolific commenter for liberals at the Website. Apparently the moderator not only deletes his comments, but has been contacting his employer in order to suppress his views. The storyline of harassment is full of irony.[/font]
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 03:58 PM (0 replies)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Part One: What It Is and Isn't

By Dr. Brian Carr
President, Behavioral Health Associates, Lubbock, Texas, 1991-Present
Chairman, City of Lubbock Board of Health, 2013
Submitted on September 3, 2013 - 7:12am


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as “Obamacare”) has been labeled the most important piece of health-related legislation in U.S. history. Nearly 500 provisions are contained in the ACA legislation. With this law America provides a means for all of our citizens to be able to access health care and not be afraid of becoming sick or disabled.

According to a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of Americans said they were “confused” by the ACA provisions. Too often we only hear the anger of those who oppose the law while not offering any sense of exactly what they are opposed to or what the alternative might be.

I spent time over the holiday reviewing the ACA provisions and the changes that will result in our health care industry. My plan is to present the essential components of the ACA over the next few weeks in my lubbockonline blog. It is not my purpose here to debate the “good” or “bad” of the law but more to help the reader understand the basic components and what has already been implemented and what will be rolling out in the coming months and years.

The ACA targets major problems in the existing system

Four Principle Goals

1. Give Americans greater access to healthcare. With about 37 million American citizens without health insurance coverage it is essential that we change the model of service delivery so that care is improved. For many in this group they simply cannot afford to purchase health insurance coverage. For others they are not able to obtain coverage because of pre-existing conditions. The ACA provides a means to be included in the healthcare system, either by increasing access to Medicaid for those at the lower earning levels or through subsidized health insurance via exchanges operated by the state or federal government.

2. Control or reduce healthcare costs. The current fee-for-service delivery model tends to drive up costs as the quantity of care is the result over the quality of care.

3. Provide for greater consumer protection and benefits that maximize a healthy lifestyle. These new safeguards and benefits provide for better regulation of the health insurance industry and require more transparency of how these carriers manage the premiums they take in and where the money goes. It presents insurance companies from dropping your coverage after you get sick because you made a minor error when you filled out your application. The carrier can no longer refuse to extend you coverage because you have a pre-existing health condition or charge you a higher premium because you’re older or have a chronic disease. Coverage can no longer have annual or lifetime limits.

4. Providing for an emphasis on prevention and wellness programs that help to maximize healthy lifestyles and reduced utilization of healthcare services.





The ACA at the Individual Level

For a person who currently has health insurance through their employer the ACA is a “mixed bag”. The law adds new consumer benefits and protections. A potential negative is whether your employer will continue to offer health insurance to you and your family. A telling point for this possible action is whether your job exists in a competitive market where such benefits are used to attract productive employees.

For the person who is uninsured, the ACA is good news. If you have a low income, you will either be able to enroll in Medicaid or qualify for a subsidized insurance plan through your state’s healthcare exchange. If you have a high income, you will also be able to buy a plan through an exchange, and its price will probably be better than what you would have to pay on the private insurance market today.

For those who have a high income the ACA represents an increase in taxes. There is a 3.8 percent ACA surtax on capital gains above $250,000 (for married couples). Single Americans who earn above $200,000 per year (or $250,000 for couples) will see the amount they pay in taxes for Medicare increase from the current 1.45 percent level to 2.35 percent above those income thresholds. Medicare beneficiaries with higher income will also be required to pay higher Part D premiums. A 40% tax will also be imposed above a specific threshold level for premiums on so-called “Cadillac” health insurance plans with enhanced benefit packages that some big earners now enjoy.

For working families the consumer protections and benefits provided by the ACA will help.

The ACA is of great assistance to the poor in America. Under the new law the income requirement to get into Medicaid is raised to 133 percent of the federal poverty line. An estimated 15 million more people will be able to get coverage as a result of the ACA, and low-income earners will still can’t get into Medicaid will qualify for government subsidies offered on the new state exchanges.

If you are concerned about those who are residing in the United States without proper documentation proving they are here legally being able to access any of the new benefits that come with the ACA don’t worry. This group will not be able to buy health insurance nor will they be allowed into the Medicaid or Medicare program.

For those who work for a large business there is a legitimate fear that their employer may drop their insurance. The key issue is whether you work for a large business such as McDonald’s, which pays low wages and does not need a health insurance benefit to attract workers or are employed by a business that sees health insurance benefits as of vital importance to compete effectively in the work place for skilled employees.

Small businesses benefit more from the ACA because of significant tax breaks they will receive against the amount they pay in health insurance premiums for their workers. Small businesses have historically had to pay significantly more than large businesses to insure their workers, not only in premiums, but also in administrative costs. The new ACA health exchanges create more of a level playing field and small businesses could realize large financial benefits.

Next: Understanding the current Healthcare System

TAGS:

LubbockOnline Blog
ACA
bend over and take a deep breath
healthcare
Insurance
Lubbock
ObamaCare
Perry has his hair covered
snake pit
Texas
We don't need no stinkin' health reform

http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/dr-brian-carr/2013-09-03/patient-protection-and-affordable-care-act-part-one-what

Cross-posted in Good Reads forum.

[font color=green]You might also want to read the comments at 10:31 a.m. by Jeff Ross who is an assistant professor of psychology at South Plains College and a prolific commenter for liberals at the Website. Apparently the moderator not only deletes his comments, but has been contacting his employer in order to suppress his views. The storyline of harassment is full of irony.[/font]
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 03:58 PM (1 replies)

Dues increase raises questions about Boy Scouts' financial health

The Boy Scouts of America, now 103 years old, is going through a lot of changes this year.

The BSA, which is based in Irving, announced last week that it is raising annual membership dues from $15 to $24 per Scout — a 60 percent increase — beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock made the announcement at the BSA’s annual Top Hands Meeting, a gathering of senior Scout professionals that took place in Washington, D.C.

Brock said the fee increase is the first since 2010 and is necessary to offset “rising administrative costs.” Deron Smith, a BSA spokesman, also said the fee increase will offset increased technology and insurance costs.

More at http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/2013/09/boy-scouts-announce-annual-membership-fee-increase-for-2014-raising-questions-about-whether-the-organization-is-hurting-financially.html/ .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 01:24 PM (5 replies)

Romania opens museum on dictator's final moments

Source: AP

Romanian authorities have opened a museum in a military building where former Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were tried and executed for genocide during the country's 1989 revolt.

The museum in Targoviste, a town 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Bucharest, where Ceausescu spent the last two days of his life, aims to show the dictator's final moments.

Ceausescu ruled Romania for 25 years with an iron fist. Visitors can see metal plates he and his wife ate on, the beds they slept in and a tiny improvised courtroom where they faced a hastily conducted trial. The place where they were fatally shot on Christmas Day, 1989, at 2.45 p.m. is also showcased for visitors.


Read more: http://www.themonitor.com/entertainment/other/article_88256579-c9df-5f89-8b4f-67c392368221.html
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 10:21 AM (1 replies)

Texas Railroad Commissioner Smitherman: Unborn "Would Have Voted Republican"

In a recent speech to an anti-abortion group on the economic impact of terminating pregnancies, Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, a Republican candidate for attorney general, said he believed many unborn babies "would have voted Republican."

"It's a strange statement," said Jessica Luther, an abortion rights activist in Austin. "I'm not sure what he's saying about their parents."

Smitherman spokesman Allen Blakemore called the candidate's statement a matter of statistics.

"Of course he was referring to the ones in Texas," Blakemore said, "and we know that the majority of Texans vote for Republican candidates."

More at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/08/30/smitherman-unborn-babies-would-have-voted-republic/ .

Smitherman also touted the economic benefits to societies with high fertility rates and cautioned against heeding the warnings of overcrowding from "the same people that believe in global warming."
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 10:12 AM (7 replies)

Cruz Fighting an Uphill Battle to Defund Obamacare

On the statewide speaking circuit, U.S. Sen Ted Cruz has made upending the federal Affordable Care Act sound simple: “The House of Representatives should pass a continuing resolution that funds the entire federal government, every bit of the federal government, except Obamacare,” he told a group of Houston realtors last month.

Now entering his third week on the road in a tour of primarily Texas cities, Cruz has only amplified his message, encouraging grassroots supporters to sign an online petition and contact their lawmakers to support this defunding approach. At one of his first stops in Kingwood in mid-August, the petition website DontFundObamacare.com had roughly 300,000 signatures. Today more than 1 million people have signed on.

But despite Cruz's fervor, it's not an idea many of his Republican colleagues are getting behind, including Cruz's Texas counterpart, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. In July, Cornyn, the Senate minority whip, withdrew his signature from a letter drafted by 11 U.S. House Republicans including Cruz demanding that Congress defund the health reform law as a condition for approving the rest of the budget.

“Among the opponents of the Affordable Care Act, there’s a growing sentiment that the defunding effort is fruitless,” said Edwin Park, vice president of health policy at the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

More at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/09/03/shifting-obamacare-attack-strategy/ .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 10:08 AM (2 replies)
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