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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: 83,675

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

Medicaid Expansion Ballot Drive Begins in Mississippi: 'A Matter of Life And Death'

Jonathan Smith wants to see his four children grow up. And, he adds, he would like to be healthy enough to be the father that his four children deserve. But to bring those hopes to fruition, the Amory, Miss., man must first emerge victorious in a two-pronged battle: one part against a cancer affecting his brain and spinal cord, the other with a health-care system that he can no longer afford.

“I have just learned I have another surgery coming up. Without insurance, I can’t afford any of this. At this point, I feel like I shouldn’t be worried about battling the treatment; I should be battling the cancer,” Smith said in Madison, Miss., yesterday.

He was sharing his story for the launch of the Yes On 76 campaign, whose organizers hope to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot in Mississippi for the November 2022 election. If voters adopted it, around 200,000 working Mississippians who cannot currently afford health insurance would become eligible for the Medicaid program.

Since 2014, Mississippi has rejected more than $7 billion in federal dollars that could have been used to expand eligibility. Former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and current Gov. Tate Reeves, both Republicans, opposed Medicaid expansion after President Barack Obama created it when he signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

Read more: https://www.mississippifreepress.org/12117/medicaid-expansion-ballot-drive-begins-in-mississippi-a-matter-of-life-and-death/

Democratic National Committee to invest in Mississippi, other red-state parties

The Democratic National Committee and Democratic state parties have reached a four-year agreement to guarantee more investment in state political infrastructure, including a “Red State Fund” for GOP-controlled states such as Mississippi.

Mississippi Democratic leaders and candidates have for years decried a lack of investment of money and manpower by the national party in Mississippi races and party infrastructure as the state has grown more solidly Republican up and down the ballot.

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Espy, who lost back-to-back Mississippi U.S. Senate races to Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in 2018 and 2020, is one of those candidates. He welcomed Thursday’s announcement from the Democratic National Committee.

“I am thrilled to see this happening,” Espy said. “There is a new day in the national Democratic Party and I think I would attribute some of that to the new chairman (Jaime Harrison) being from South Carolina and just having lost in a red state. We’re friends and have spoken about the need for something like this. I’m thrilled to see that in his first month at the helm something like this is happening. This work means candidates such as I was can focus on having a winning campaign, messaging and outreach and not spend three-fourths of our time raising money and trying to build party infrastructure for the state.”

Read more: https://mississippitoday.org/2021/05/13/dnc-to-invest-in-mississippi/

Mississippi Medical Marijuana law and initiative process goes up in smoke

In a rare Friday release, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued its decision today on the case involving the validity of the process by which the constitutional amendment for medical marijuana via Initiative 65 made its way on the 2020 ballot. The decision comes a month after oral arguments were heard by the Justices.

Justices granted the petition, reversed the Secretary of State’s certification of Initiative 65, and held that any subsequent proceedings on it are void.

“Pursuant to the duty imposed on us by article 15, section 273(9), of the Mississippi Constitution, we hold that the petition submitted to the Secretary of State seeking to place Initiative 65 on the ballot for the November 3, 2020, general election was insufficient. Because Initiative 65 was placed on the ballot without meeting the section 273(3) prerequisites for doing so, it was placed on the ballot in violation of the Mississippi Constitution. Whether with intent, by oversight, or for some other reason, the drafters of section 273(3) wrote a ballot-initiative process that cannot work in a world where Mississippi has fewer than five representatives in Congress. To work in today’s reality, it will need amending—something that lies beyond the power of the Supreme Court.”

Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler filed a petition days before the November General Election challenging the initiative’s validity, questioning the signatures filed with the Secretary of State’s office under the old five Congressional District statute. The filing named Secretary of State Michael Watson in his official capacity, however current Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann was the Secretary of State at the time of the initiative’s certification.

According to the Mississippi Constitution, “…An initiative to amend the Constitution may be proposed by a petition signed over a twelve month period by qualified electors equal in number to at least twelve percent (12%) of the votes for all candidates for Governor in the last gubernatorial election. The signatures of the qualified electors from any congressional district shall not exceed one-fifth (1/5) of the total number of signatures required to qualify an initiative petition for placement upon the ballot…”

Read more: https://yallpolitics.com/2021/05/14/mississippi-medical-marijuana-law-and-initiative-process-goes-up-in-smoke/

Mississippi's opt out of additional unemployment benefits has Democrats calling for minimum wage

Mississippi’s opt out of additional unemployment benefits has Democrats calling for minimum wage hikes

On Monday, Governor Tate Reeves announced that Mississippi would cease its participation in receiving the federal unemployment supplemental benefits on June 12. Unemployed persons are currently receiving up to $235 per week with an additional $300 from the federal government through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

The Governor said the move comes as businesses are struggling to find workers while competing with the federal government’s additional monies.

“After many conversations over the last several weeks with Mississippi small business owners and their employees, it has become clear that the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and other like programs passed by the Congress may have been necessary in May of last year but are no longer so in May of this year,” Governor Reeves stated. “I have also directed MDES to prioritize pre-pandemic enforcement of all eligibility requirements for any individual to receive unemployment benefits under state law.”

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security says the move will effect 70,000 people. Ending the federal assistance and returning to pre-pandemic requirements will leave approximately 15,000 Mississippians on state unemployment benefit rolls.

Read more: https://yallpolitics.com/2021/05/12/mississippis-opt-out-of-additional-unemployment-benefits-has-democrats-calling-for-minimum-wage-hikes/

Alabama's Judson College may close

Judson College just held what may be its last graduation ceremony. The school's trustees voted to close the small Baptist-affiliated school for women which predates the Civil War. Campus leaders cite a lack of money and declining enrollment in the decision to close Judson, which was founded in 1838 and is the nation’s fifth-oldest college for women.

A $1.5 million fundraising drive back in December was supposed to breathe new life into the school’s finances, but the effort fell short. Enrollment also declined from one hundred and forty five students to about eighty, with only a dozen new students committed for the fall.

Board chairwoman, and Judson graduate, Joan Newman said in a statement that the decision followed months of fundraising, research and prayer.

“Acknowledging the incredible legacy of Judson, acknowledging the thousands of lives that were changed through a Judson experience and grateful for my own personal journey at Judson, it is with broken hearts that the board votes to suspend instruction,” she said.

Read more: https://www.apr.org/post/alabama-s-judson-college-may-close

4 Birmingham police officers shot near UAB, double murder suspect dead

The suspect in a Sunday morning shooting that left two people dead near a Southside park shot four Birmingham police officers before they returned fire, killing him, authorities said.

The four officers – all members of the department’s tactical team – are expected to recover. Two were shot, and two were grazed, said Sgt. Rod Mauldin. The slain suspect, an adult, white male, has not been publicly identified.

The ordeal began at 6:30 a.m. when South Precinct officers responded to Brother Bryan Park at 10th Avenue South and Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard.

Mauldin said investigators received information that an argument took place moments before the shooting. The victims were approached by a male and a verbal altercation occurred. According to witness accounts, a dog was mentioned during the argument. The victims were walking a dog at the time of the incident.

Read more: https://www.al.com/news/2021/05/2-birmingham-police-officers-shot-near-uab-suspect-dead.html

Civil rights group, state lawmakers call for Huntsville chief's resignation

A civil rights group and two state lawmakers joined the growing chorus of voices calling for Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray to resign.

The Rosa Parks Day Committee was joined by Democratic state lawmakers Rep. Anthony Daniels, the House minority leader, and Rep. Laura Hall at a Thursday press conference, at which they called for McMurray to either resign his position or be fired by Mayor Tommy Battle. Later on Thursday, McMurray took more criticism from the public during a Huntsville City Council meeting.

The public outcry over McMurray began last summer following an ugly series of events in which his police officers fired tear gas at peaceful protesters. But a boiling point was reached last week, after the conviction of HPD officer William Darby for murder. Following that verdict, McMurray issued a statement in support of Darby.

“It’s time for the city council and mayor to take swift action and change the leadership,” Daniels said during the event. He said he is now convinced that McMurray cannot adequately lead the department and that his continued employment as chief is putting officers in danger.

Read more: https://www.alreporter.com/2021/05/14/civil-rights-group-state-lawmakers-call-for-huntsville-chiefs-resignation/
(Alabama Political Reporter)

Amazon defeats EU in bid to collect $303 million in taxes

BRUSSELS, Belgium: In a setback to competition chief Margrethe Vestager's campaign against preferential deals, Amazon won its fight against an EU order to pay about $303 million in back taxes to Luxembourg.

The bloc failed to show that Luxembourg had given the U.S. online retailer special treatment in violation of state aid rules, the EU's General Court ruled on May 12.

The ruling follows Vestager's landmark defeat against Apple last year, which had contested an order that it pay $15 billion in Irish back taxes.

Both Amazon and Apple were targeted by Vestager in a crusade to weed out tax deals used by EU states, including Luxembourg and the Netherlands, to attract large companies.

Read more: https://www.caribbeannews.net/news/269499793/amazon-defeats-eu-in-bid-to-collect-303-million-in-taxes

Turkey Reports on Puerto Rico's Status

“The Status of Puerto Rico” is an in-depth report on Puerto Rico’s status produced by the program Inside America with Ghida Fakhry from the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation.

After explaining the new statehood admissions bill and the competing HR 2070, Fakhry began by talking with former Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño. Fortuño explained the economic benefits of statehood. “For investors, they look at Puerto Rico and then they say, ‘It’s not as safe as a U.S. state.'”

“At the end of the day, it has to work as it was supposed to work,” said Fortuño. “The vast majority of people rejected the current territorial status. We need to finish the conversation once and for all.”

Fakhry asked whether Puerto Rico shouldn’t have more options.

Read more: https://www.puertoricoreport.com/turkey-reports-on-puerto-ricos-status/#.YKHjxPzPzIU

EPA Orders Limetree Bay to Shut Down for 60 days, Putting Plant Restart in Peril

CHRISTIANSTED — U.S. regulators on Friday ordered the Limetree Bay refinery on St. Croix to cease operations for at least 60 days, throwing the multibillion-dollar overhaul of the massive plant into jeopardy.

The south shore refinery has suffered several financial and operational setbacks since its private equity owners sought to restart the 1,500 acre facility idled since 2012. It voluntarily stopped processing this week after showering nearby homes with an oily mist for the second time this year.

The incident exceeded the plant’s permit for sulfur dioxide emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said. The EPA ordered the facility closed “due to multiple improperly conducted operations that present an imminent risk to public health” and signaled it might take further action.

Limetree Bay spokeswoman Erica Parsons did not respond to requests for comment. On Thursday, a malfunction in a processing unit led the company to send staff to inspect local properties. It advised residents not to drink from rainwater cisterns.

Read more: https://vifreepress.com/2021/05/epa-orders-limetree-bay-to-shut-down-for-60-days-putting-plant-restart-in-peril/
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