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TexasTowelie's Journal
TexasTowelie's Journal
March 31, 2015

Zachry Group donates $25 million to A&M's Dwight Look College of Engineering

Texas A&M announced Tuesday morning that a longtime financial supporter of Aggieland - the Zachry Group, a San Antonio-based construction and engineering company - has made a $25 million gift to the Dwight Look College of Engineering.

The project will renovate the 43-year-old, 350,000-square foot Zachry Engineering Center and expand to 550,000 square feet to become the hub of the college’s undergraduate program.

According to a university press release, the donation will support the construction of the Engineering Education Complex (EEC), establish the Zachry Leadership Program and the Zachry Group Professor of Practice position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“We are humbled and honored to receive such a significant investment in our future,” A&M Engineering Dean Kathy Banks said. “On behalf of Aggies everywhere, I would like to applaud the Zachry Group for its leadership and support. This generous gift will be transformational, impacting students in many ways.”

Read more: http://www.theeagle.com/news/a_m/zachry-group-donates-million-to-a-m-s-dwight-look/article_28a4f4ca-d7c4-11e4-aa79-93a9f960d555.html

March 31, 2015

Exclusive: Activist Buys Domains Of Indiana Lawmakers Who Passed Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Bill

Portland based writer and gay activist Konrad Juengling is among many thousands of people across the country expressing their outrage at the recent "religious freedom" law passed in Indiana that gives businesses a license to discriminate against the LGBTQ community under the guise of protecting people of faith.

But Juengling decided to take a unique approach to protesting.

In the past several months the trend of purchasing internet domains for prominent individuals or companies by members of the public has become explosively popular, according to a report by the Daily Herald. For example, after Ted Cruz became the first major Republican to declare his 2016 presidential candidacy, the domains tedcruz.com, tedcruzforamerica.com, and tedcruz.ca were all purchased, not by Ted Cruz, but by members of the public who have thus far mostly used the domains to display or link to messages that support President Obama, the Democratic party, and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). All of which Cruz opposes.

When it comes to internet domains, which are regulated by the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), anyone is free to purchase them. That's because there are very little legal restrictions regarding this matter at the current time.

"You can register anything you want in a domain name," Karl Kronenberger, a partner at the Internet law firm Kronenberger Rosenfeld, told the Daily Herald.

Read more: http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/thomasalberts/portland_man_buys_domains_for_indiana_representatives
March 31, 2015

Bright Light Social Hour Celebrate Album Release at Stubb's BBQ (REVIEW)

Austin, Texas -- Anytime a local band can fill up Stubb’s BBQ – one of this town’s most renowned venues – it’s a special occasion. On Friday night it most certainly was as the Bright Light Social Hour took the stage in front of an adoring hometown crowd to celebrate the release of their new album, Space Is Still The Place. Not only is the album their first since their 2010 self-titled debut – one that earned praise from critics and saw them basically sweeping the annual Austin Music Awards – but it also sounds completely different than anything we’ve heard from the Bright Light Social Hour. In the years that have passed since the first album, the band has given the boot to keyboard player and founding member AJ Vincent, and recently experienced a devastating loss in the passing of their manager Alex O’Brien, also brother to bassist Jack O’Brien. All of these factors weighed heavily on Friday’s show, adding enough significance to make it more than just another show. The band’s performance reflected this.

Their newer sound is far more exploratory and electronic, with synths and beats often dominating a psychedelic cauldron of rock music that carries hints of Pink Floyd and at times My Morning Jacket. This is a departure from their older material, which is more straightforward party rock and roll. Longtime fans were pleased to see the band just as eager to play older favorites like “Back and Forth”, dance party igniter “Shanty”, and the blues-laden confessional “Detroit”. That’s not to say newer songs didn’t go over well, because they definitely did. Tunes like “Sweet Madelene”, “Slipstream”, and “Dreamlove” were a little more slow and atmospheric, but still positively groove-inducing. Onstage the band seemed less concerned with rocking out and careening through a set than they were on creating subtle nuances, focused group jams, and triumphant build-ups that reach a frenzied explosion. Anyone who has kept up with the Bright Light Social Hour over the last five years could plainly see that this was not the same band, but rather one intent on developing their sound into something perhaps more dynamic and far more grandiose than anything they’ve done before.

Musically, the ninety-minute set was consistently impressive throughout, however, two highlights came from moments of true happiness as opposed to instrumental prowess. The first was the rather unexpected cameo of venerable singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard and his son Lucas. Hubbard’s music is nothing like Bright Light Social Hour, but it was a testament to pride in your state when everyone, including the audience, joined in on the classic “Screw You I’m From Texas”. The second highlight, also the final culminating moment of the show, came when the band invited a local conglomerate of musicians onstage including Walker Lukens and members of Hard Proof and Migrant Kids among others. In a fitting tribute to the late Alex O’Brien and what felt like an appropriate metaphor for their career, Bright Light Social Hour toasted the past, present and future with balloon-filled cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”. Here’s to hoping these hometown heroes keep doing just that. –Neil Ferguson


[font color=green]Plug provided because the lead singer and the bass guitar player are alums from my university.[/font]
March 31, 2015

Passover Pesach 2015 Seder Rube Goldberg Machine from Technion in Israel

Technion students get ready for Passover, the festival of freedom, and let their imagination run wild. Watch closely as this Rube Goldberg Machine created by students from the Faculties of Mechanical Engineering and Architecture and Town Planning relates highlights of the Passover story.

March 31, 2015

Indiana Is A Great Place To Be A Bigot

Hoosier hospitality.

March 31, 2015

Texas: If You Thought Indiana's 'Religious Freedom' Law Was Bad, Just Wait

Much news has been made over the past weekend about Indiana's recently passed "Religious Freedom" law. Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by Governor Mike Pence on March 26, gives business owners the right to claim religious grounds as a reason to deny service to a customer. Opponents assert the law protects businesses that discriminate members of the LGBT community. Pence has played some impressive verbal gymnastics to avoid admitting the bill's anti-gay intentions.

"Tolerance is a two-way street," he said on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, when pressed multiple times to clarify whether businesses would be allowed to discriminate gays and lesbians when the law goes into effect on July 1. Tolerance, by the way, is not a two-way street. Just ask any minority forced to tolerate discrimination.

As it stands, the law is frustratingly vague. The text says an individual's religious exercise cannot be "substantially burdened" by state or local governments. Apparently, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution isn't enough. You can read the full text here. The law currently does not define a standard for "substantially burdened." Courts may have to determine what those two words mean on a case-by-case basis, but it could allow business to deny service to gays, lesbians and transgender people. It may also override the five Indiana cities and two counties that already have LGBT employment discrimination protections on the books.

Pence told the Indiana Star that legislation would be introduced in the coming days to "clarify" the law, although he declined to provide specific details.

More at http://m.sacurrent.com/Blogs/archives/2015/03/30/texas-if-you-thought-indianas-religious-freedom-law-was-bad-just-wait
March 31, 2015

Alabama lawmaker tries to repeal law named after patient who died in his care

Shadrack McGill should have been the warning - be careful who you vote for, because the deadbeat you know might be better than the deadbeat you don't.

State Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyfe, was supposed to be unbeatable. He had been, after all, the core of the Democratic establishment in the Alabama Senate. The conventional wisdom had been that voters hated the legislature but loved their legislators. Barron was bulletproof. There was no way he could lose.

But then he did.

And the guy who beat him, now former state Sen. Shadrack McGill, R-Macedonia, turned out to be a complete untampered goofball (and a political columnist's dream). He argued that giving raises to teachers was unbiblical. He said that constituents who cared more about the budget than social issues were "less educated." His wife - apparently unfamiliar with Facebook spam - said women kept trying to proposition her husband on social media. And when he was cornered about all of these blunders, he compared himself to Jesus.

Read more: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/alabama_lawmaker_tries_to_repe.html

[font color=green]Shadrack McGill has another name...one you might be more familiar with.[/font]

March 31, 2015

Goodbye to Tent City--Aftermath of Raymondville prison riot devastates Willacy County

AP Photo/Valley Morning Star, David Pike
Prisoners stand at the western fence as law enforcement officials from a wide variety of agencies converge on the Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville on Feb. 20 in response to a prisoner uprising at the private immigration detention center.

When I arrived at the prison on an overcast Tuesday afternoon in March, the first thing I noticed was the trash. Piled up along the razor-wire fence were hundreds of plastic garbage bags bulging with pieces of broken toilets and destroyed electronic surveillance equipment—the leftovers of a prison revolt that rocked Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville just a few weeks earlier.

On Feb. 20, prisoners wielding pipes, sharpened broomsticks and kitchen knives seized control of the privately run federal prison for nearly two days. The prisoners—undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation while serving federal criminal sentences, many for illegally entering the U.S.—mutinied after years of built-up exasperation over inadequate medical care, filthy toilets and maggot-infested food. They set fire to three of the 10 Kevlar tents that lend the South Texas prison its nickname, Tent City, and damaged the plumbing and electrical systems. The FBI was called in to negotiate; armored vehicles were sent inside; tear gas was fired. Somehow, the inmates managed to slice open the tents that hadn’t been torched. Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence told reporters that inmates were “pouring out like ants coming out of an ant hill.” By the time prison authorities regained control of the prison, the $60 million facility was reduced to a shambles; the federal Bureau of Prisons declared it “uninhabitable.”

In the riot’s wake, all 2,834 inmates were transferred to other facilities. Nearly all of the 400 people employed by Management and Training Corporation (MTC), the private company the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) paid to run the prison, were laid off. When I traveled to Raymondville, an impoverished town 50 miles north of Brownsville, Willacy County leaders were waiting to see how long it might take for the prison to reopen—or if it would reopen at all. A decade ago, persuaded by a consortium of private prison salesmen, the county had entered into a kind of Faustian bargain, staking its financial future on a continual supply of state and federal prisoners. Now, as Willacy County faces a gaping hole in its budget, $128 million in debt still owed on Tent City, and the loss of its largest employer, I’d come to find out if the prison that was supposed to be the county’s economic salvation would end up being its undoing.

At Tent City, the parking lot was nearly empty, but the two lock-ups next door—the Willacy County State Jail, operated by Corrections Corporation of America, and the Willacy County Regional Detention Center, a U.S. Marshals Service prison also contracted to MTC—were bustling. Drivers lined up three or four deep at the gate to have their IDs scrutinized by the guards. Before the riot, the three prisons in this sprawling complex could house up to 4,500 inmates, roughly a quarter of the county’s population. The prisons are so central to the area’s identity that locals have given their town a nickname that’s stuck: Prisonville.

Read more: http://www.texasobserver.org/south-texas-prison-riot-willacy-county-economic-future/
March 31, 2015

'Bernie' case prosecutor seeks recusal, says he's a witness

CARTHAGE (AP) — The Texas district attorney who was to prosecute for a second time the man whose murder conviction inspired the movie "Bernie" has asked to recuse himself on the eve of a pretrial hearing, saying he's become a witness.

In a motion filed Monday in state district court in Carthage, Danny Buck Davidson asked to recuse himself and other prosecutors in his Panola County District Attorney's Office from the Bernie Tiede case.

Tiede was convicted of killing wealthy widow Marjorie Nugent and storing her body in a freezer. He was released from prison after a judge agreed to reduce his sentence. Davidson agreed the former mortician was wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment.

Davidson did not specify how he was a witness. He asked that a special prosecutor be appointed.


March 31, 2015

Ex-banker denied bail in $66 million investment scam

Photo By /Handout /Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
Ex-banker Armando Jesus Hernandez Leal, 53, is jailed in San Antonio on allegations that he stole $66 million he was supposed to invest.

San Antonio, Texas -- U.S. Magistrate Judge John Primomo found a former Mexican banker accused of stealing $66 million from investors while living in San Antonio, is a flight risk after listening to testimony that he has “a hidden stash” somewhere.

Armando Jesus Hernandez Leal gave the judge his word Monday that he wouldn’t skip bail if released from jail to await trial. But the judge denied bail after an FBI agent testified that $40 million to $50 million are still unaccounted for and that Hernandez has “a hidden stash.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Surovic also argued that Hernandez, a permanent resident, faces up to 20 years in prison and would be deported if convicted of wire fraud, giving him more reason to flee.

“It appears he does have the resources to flee,” Primomo said.

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Ex-banker-denied-bail-in-66-million-investment-6169020.php#photo-7742974

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, 02:57 AM
Number of posts: 110,139

About TexasTowelie

Retired/disabled 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!

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