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TexasTowelie

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 02:57 AM
Number of posts: 72,591

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

Kim Calls Atomic Weapons Top Priority as Korea Tensions Rise

Source: Bloomberg

Kim Jong Un called nuclear weapons development one of North Korea’s top priorities as his country ratcheted up tensions by declaring a state of war with South Korea and reiterating threats to attack the U.S.

Nuclear arms can “never be abandoned” nor “traded with billions of dollars,” Kim said yesterday at a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported. North Korea’s rubber stamp parliament meets today to ratify his remarks.

Tensions have escalated since North Korea detonated a nuclear device in February, denounced tightened United Nations sanctions and threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes in response to U.S.- South Korea military drills. The U.S. yesterday said it takes North Korean threats seriously while denouncing the “long history of bellicose rhetoric.”

The Obama administration yesterday sent F-22 Raptor fighter jets to South Korea to reinforce its commitment to defending its ally. While North Korea said March 30 it may shut the jointly run Gaeseong industrial zone in response to recent flights over the Korean peninsula by U.S. stealth bombers, South Korean workers crossed the border into the area today.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-01/kim-calls-nuclear-weapons-top-priority-as-korea-tensions-climb.html

End of line for state's super computer

ALBUQUERQUE — It’s the end of the line for Roadrunner, a first-of-its-kind collection of processors that once reigned as the world’s fastest supercomputer.

The $121 million supercomputer, housed at one of the nation’s premier nuclear weapons research laboratories in Northern New Mexico, will be decommissioned Sunday.

The reason? The world of supercomputing is evolving and Roadrunner has been replaced with something smaller, faster, more energy efficient and cheaper. Still, officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory say it’s among the 25 fastest supercomputers in the world.

“Roadrunner got everyone thinking in new ways about how to build and use a supercomputer,” said Gary Grider, who works in the lab’s high performance computing division. “Specialized processors are being included in new ways on new systems and being used in novel ways. Our demonstration with Roadrunner caused everyone to pay attention.”

More at http://www.santafenewmexican.com/life/tech/article_f4894a40-dff5-5bb2-ae0a-d294926c0ded.html .

[font color=green]This was the first supercomputer that could process over a quadrillion calculations per second.[/font]
Posted by TexasTowelie | Mon Apr 1, 2013, 12:15 AM (0 replies)

Cancer screening cut from state budget: Letter

As a breast cancer survivor, I believe all women in Louisiana deserve access to critical life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment. For years, the Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program has helped low-income, uninsured and underserved women gain access to lifesaving tests for breast and cervical cancer, but the funding for this program has been cut from the 2013-14 state budget.

The program currently receives $700,000 in state funding. By eliminating that funding, Louisiana risks losing the program's federal matching funds as well. This would amount to a total cut of $2.8 million. This funding cut would have a devastating impact on breast and cervical cancer care in our state, as the cut would result in estimated 15,556 fewer women being served.

Louisiana's state budget should not be balanced on the backs of uninsured and underinsured women.

Kathleen Judge

Volunteer, American Cancer Society
Posted by TexasTowelie | Mon Apr 1, 2013, 12:09 AM (1 replies)

Partying continues in Austin despite North Korea's threats of missile attack

AUSTIN -- If there was any anxiety in Texas' capital city from being named as a possible target by an increasingly belligerent North Korea, it was hard to find Friday.

Tourists and townsfolk alike were clearly in a mellow mood as they strolled along Austin's storied Sixth Street, seemingly oblivious to the possibility they could be in the cross-hairs of mercurial dictator Kim Jong Un.

"Austin, seriously?" said an amused Jeff Miller, a 34-year-old restaurant worker, as he sat inside The Jackalope, a bar and restaurant named after the mythical creature. "He's going to wreck a couple of musical festivals, I guess."

In a city that prides itself on tolerance and its world-famous motto, "Keep Austin Weird," Miller's response typified the street reaction to media reports that Austin is one of four U.S. targets of a missile strike plan prepared by the North Korean leader and his senior military strategists

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/03/30/4738185/partying-continues-in-austin-despite.html#storylink=cpy

State Rep. Kolkhorst: Obamacare subsidies, yes; larger Medicaid, no



Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, the House’s chief health policy writer, is featured in a new 10-minute video on Gov. Rick Perry’s website.

<<<snip>>>

In the video, Kolkhorst stands at a white board and uses differently colored markers to press the case that people — presumably, the news media, health care industry interest groups and naïve do-gooders — have made far too big a deal out of the federal health law’s push to have states expand their Medicaid programs.

Texas is resisting expansion. On Monday, Kolkhorst will join Gov. Rick Perry and the state’s two GOP U.S. senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and Brooke Rollins, the head of a conservative think tank, at an Austin event. Its message:

<<<snip>>>

Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, is chairwoman of the House Public Health Committee. She relies on state estimates that show Medicaid expansion would have much less effect on Texas’ nation-leading uninsured rate than would the subsidies that help better-off people buy private coverage in a federally run state health insurance exchange. As I noted in this Medicaid fact checker earlier this month, former U.S. Census Bureau chief and ex-state demographer Steve Murdock did a study about a year ago that gives both prongs of Obamacare roughly equal weight in probably cutting the state’s rate in half. (See the jump to read the relevant excerpt.)

If Texas weren’t resisting, Medicaid expansion and the exchange both would commence in January. It appears more likely that just the exchange will kick off in early 2014.

More at http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/03/kolkhorst-obamacare-subsidies-yes-larger-medicaid-no.html/ .

[font color=green]What is it with Republicans and whiteboards? Is it that they can't write all of the information on their palms instead?

Unfortunately, Kolkhorst is my state representative although she doesn't represent me.[/font]

Capt. Kirk beamed down, but Texas Lottery’s “Star Trek” Guinness record attempt fell short

Lt. Anthony Williams, the Dallas Police Department’s eyes and ears downtown, took a quick look at the U.S.S. Enterprise crew members, Vulcans, Klingons, Andorians and assorted other Star Trek footnotes lined up against a Dallas Convention Center wall and said, “500.” Then he hastily corrected his guesstimate. “No, more like 550.”

He was off by 11.

Which meant that the Texas Lottery’s attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most people dressed as Star Trek characters in one place fell well short of the existing record of 1,063. No matter, though: “Everyone has been so in the spirit of Star Trek,” said Guinness adjudicator Michael Empiric shortly after he broke the bad news Saturday morning to the small but well-dressed crowd at the convention center. “And that’s what I look for in a record attempt. But sometimes, the best laid plans just involve getting people in the door.”

And the Lottery did its best by bringing in none other than William Shatner, Captain James T. Kirk himself, to kick off the event and introduce the Lottery’s new Star Trek scratch-off game.

More at http://popcultureblog.dallasnews.com/2013/03/capt-kirk-beamed-down-but-texas-lotterys-star-trek-guinness-record-attempt-fell-short.html/ .

Cost of Environmental Damage in China Growing Rapidly Amid Industrialization

BEIJING — The cost of environmental degradation in China was about $230 billion in 2010, or 3.5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product — three times that in 2004, in local currency terms, an official Chinese news report said this week.

The figure of $230 billion, or 1.54 trillion renminbi, is based on costs arising from pollution and damage to the ecosystem, the price that China is paying for its rapid industrialization.

“This cuts to the heart of China’s economic challenge: how to transform from the explosive growth of the past 30 years to the sustainable growth of the next 30 years,” said Alistair Thornton, a China economist at the research firm IHS Global Insight. “Digging a hole and filling it back in again gives you G.D.P. growth. It doesn’t give you economic value. A lot of the activity in China over the last few years has been digging holes to fill them back in again — anything from bailing out failing solar companies to ignoring the ‘externalities’ of economic growth.”

And the costs could be even higher than the ministry’s estimate, he said. The $230 billion figure is incomplete because the researchers did not have a full set of data. Making such calculations is “notoriously difficult,” Mr. Thornton said.

More at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/world/asia/cost-of-environmental-degradation-in-china-is-growing.html?hp&_r=1& .

Cowboys, Romo agree on 6-year, $108M extension

IRVING, Texas —

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys have agreed on a six-year contract extension worth $108 million, with about half of it guaranteed.

The agreement was reported on the team's website Friday. The deal will lower Romo's salary cap number of $16.8 million for 2013, giving the team more room to sign free agents and draft picks.

Romo, who turns 33 next month and was entering the final year of his contract, gets $55 million guaranteed and could be with Dallas through 2019. Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco got $52 million guaranteed in the six-year, $120.6 million contract he signed with Baltimore earlier this month.

Romo is the franchise leader in touchdown passes but has just one playoff win in six full seasons as the starter.

Source: AP

Jindal's tax swap proposal has jumped to a 6.25% state sales tax

Gov. Bobby Jindal's tax swap proposal would require a state sales tax rate of 6.25 percent, more than a third of a percentage point higher than previous estimates, administration officials said Thursday evening. The higher sales tax, which would be imposed on a wider range of goods and services, is intended to help make up for revenue lost by the plan's elimination of the state income tax.

Louisiana Department of Revenue Executive Counsel Tim Barfield, the lead official on the tax overhaul, said in a news release that the higher tax rate is necessary to keep the plan revenue-neutral.

Officials had previously stated the plan would increase the tax rate from 4 percent to 5.88 percent as part of an effort to fill the $3.6 billion gap that would be left in state finances by eliminating personal income and corporate taxes.

Legislators had already expressed concerns about that increase, which would come on top of local sales taxes and be applied both to purchases that are already taxed and a wide array of new services. Even under the lower figure previously used by the administration, the plan was expected to make Louisiana's combined state and local sales tax burden the highest in the country.

More at http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/03/jindals_tax_swap_proposal_now.html#incart_m-rpt-2 .

[font color=green]A 56% hike in the state sales tax. Way to go gov! [/font]

Southeastern Louisiana University finds 137 ineligible athletes competed

NEW ORLEANS — An internal investigation at Southeastern Louisiana has revealed that 137 ineligible athletes competed for the Lions in unspecified sports between 2005 and 2010.

In a statement released Thursday, Southeastern, which is located in Hammond, said most violations occurred between 2005 and 2007 and involved instances in which the university failed to comply with NCAA academic requirements by mistakenly certifying athletes as eligible.

"In many instances, student-athletes would have been eligible had proper procedure been followed, such as timely declaration or change of a major," Southeastern athletic director Bart Bellairs said.

The report stressed there was no evidence Southeastern recruited athletes who weren't in good academic standing, noting that 86 percent of the athletes in question graduated.

More at http://www.shreveporttimes.com/viewart/20130328/SPORTS02/130328050/Southeastern-Louisiana-University-finds-137-ineligible-athletes-competed- .

Cross-posted Louisiana Group.