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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: 76,319

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

Dr. Peter J. Hotez on How the Federal Government Failed Texas on the Coronavirus

As one of the nation’s leading experts on drug and vaccine delivery, Dr. Peter Hotez, codirector of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, has become an almost ubiquitous presence on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. But while he’s reliably been loath to discuss the politics surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, across the last week or so, as Texas’s numbers have risen, he’s done a noticeable about-face; he’s begun using his television time to counter a White House narrative he describes as a “fairy tale spun by mediocre people” and to decry “an absence of federal leadership.” He ended a recent tweet about the federal government’s failure to enact an evidence-based plan with a simple “WTF.”

“I’ve really worked hard to only talk about the science and not publicly criticize the White House or other elected officials, but I’ve had to depart from that,” says Hotez, who also serves as dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and has an endowed chair in tropical pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital. “What pushed my hand was the steep rise across our Southern cities, knowing that our low-income neighborhoods are especially getting hit, and, most likely, though the data isn’t in yet, it’s people of color, African American, Hispanic, and Latinx people that are piling into the hospital. So we are as a nation are failing to protect our vulnerable. And I reached a point where not being political, not really getting to the root of the problem, is in itself immoral.”

Hotez believes the White House needs to embrace a three-step process and explain the direness of the pandemic to the public, prioritize a federal strategy, and allow the CDC to take a leadership role that sets real parameters for the states. He blames the White House, not necessarily Governor Abbott and leaders in other states who opened early in the process, for the current resurgence.

“I feel the governors across the Southern states were set up to fail by a federal government that never provided clear-cut directives,” Hotez says. “The strategy was just ‘let the states figure it out and the federal government will work to provide backup’—FEMA support, ventilator manufacturing, and PPE. But they didn’t provide clear-cut epidemiologic models on where each of the states was headed. They failed to provide clear information about what would happen if the states did nothing or if the states opened prematurely. They failed to tell the states, ‘This is what you need to do to save lives.’ And the reason they needed to do that was they were tone deaf to the fact that all of these governors, not just the Texas governor, are buffeted by forces to the left and right. And the governors needed the cover from the federal government to say, ‘Hey guys, look, I hear what you’re saying, but the CDC and the federal government is telling me if I don’t do X, Y, and Z, this many lives are going to be lost.’ And that would have given a lot of the governors a lot of cover to do what needed to be done. And so I place the blame squarely in the hands of the government and CDC for not being proactive and out there in the lead.”

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/podcast/peter-hotez-federal-government-failed-texas-coronavirus/

Texas to rename football field in honor of Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams

In a move to better promote diversity, inclusion and equity and fully to support its Black students, The University of Texas said in a news release on Monday that the school will be renaming its football field to honor a pair of Longhorn greats — Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.

Both Campbell and Williams are former Heisman trophy winners.

The field was previously named for Joe Jamail.

Texas will also erect a statue of Julius Whittier, the Longhorns’ first Black football letterman, at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Interim President Jay Hartzell said that one thing that would remain the same is the school's alma mater and unofficial fight song, “The Eyes of Texas.”

Read more: https://www.jacksonvilleprogress.com/sports/texas-to-rename-football-field-in-honor-of-earl-campbell-and-ricky-williams/article_59feee7c-c535-11ea-b372-27cfa6dddcb2.html

Mayor Turner Recommends Two-Week Houston Lockdown to Fight COVID-19

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner believes it’s time for his city to pump the brakes hard on business as usual and go back to stay-at-home conditions in order to take the fight to COVID-19.

On Saturday, Turner proposed that Houston go back into lockdown for two weeks to try and blunt the startling spread of the coronavirus in the area, despite not being able to mandate that type of shutdown himself due Gov. Abbott’s statewide reopening rules.

Speaking to the media at a city-sponsored food and face mask distribution event, Turner said that he believed Texas and Houston had “opened too quickly, too soon” based on Abbott’s plan, and that a temporary, targeted shutdown would make it more likely that it would be safe to reopen local schools in the weeks ahead. He also said he thinks that Abbott’s statewide mask order won’t be enough to slow down COVID-19 as much as it needs to be given the massive rate at which the virus has been spreading throughout Houston.

“We have to recognize the fact that not everybody is going to put on this mask, let’s just be real, even with the requirement. Knowing all of that and knowing what works, you’ve got to recalibrate,” Turner said.

Read more: https://www.houstonpress.com/news/turner-recommends-two-week-houston-shutdown-11482080

Beto O'Rourke Backs Biden's 'Build Back Better' Economic Recovery Plan

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke endorsed the ambitious economic recovery plan unveiled by his one-time opponent, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, during a Zoom conference call Friday.

Announced Thursday, the “Build Back Better” plan aims to create 5 million new jobs in the U.S.’ manufacturing and technology sectors. It would also introduce a higher corporate tax rate, save small businesses from shuttering and boost income for blue-collar workers and minorities.

“This will do more than anything else to make sure that [American business owners are] back on their feet, their doors are back open and their employees are back to work,” O’Rourke said.

The Texas congressman had once warned that a Biden presidency would mean a “return to the past.” After dropping out of the 2020 presidential race, though, O’Rourke quickly announced his support for the former vice president. Now, he’s vowed to do everything in his power to help Biden secure a win.

Read more: https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/greg-abbott-bars-lawsuit-coronavirus-11924887

Austin City Manager proposes tax hike, 2 percent employee raise

Presenting a budget with a 2 percent employee pay raise and no layoffs and a 3.5 percent property tax increase, City Manager Spencer Cronk told Council Monday that his budget proposal meets the twin crises of the pandemic that has “upended our way of life and triggered an unprecedentedly swift economic contraction.” At the same time, he said, “the city is taking new steps to confront and end the long history of systemic injustices experienced by people of color by our public safety institutions.”

The 2020-2021 budget “meets these crises head-on, building on work to combat Covid-19 and help our community recover from its effects, while accelerating the process of reimagining our public safety system to ensure justice and equal treatment for all our residents,” Cronk said.

One way to thread that needle in a time of falling sales tax revenues is through $11.3 million in cuts to the Austin Police Department. That cut is a fraction of the $100 million reduction called for by the Austin Justice Coalition and its supporters.

The city’s financial management staffers have kept almost $26 million in excess in the reserve fund, according to Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed van Eenoo, which is another key way to balance lost sales tax money. In addition, city budget planners made conservative estimates of future sales tax revenues. As a result, even though the city saw a sharp decline in sales taxes, “when we entered the crisis we were more than $10 million ahead of our estimates,” van Eenoo said during a media briefing.

Read more: https://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2020/07/manager-proposes-tax-hike-2-percent-employee-raise/

What Are the "Next Normals" for Scooters in Austin

Remember the good old days, back in March, when SXSW was just around the corner and it felt like there were about eleventy jillion scooters on Austin's streets? You all remember what happened next, and so do the micromobility companies. Instead of seeing 750,000 rides in March as many had expected (or three times the February total, as had happened in 2019), they ended the month with about 30% of that and headed steeply downhill. In April, there were only 10,551 micromobility trips. By the first of May, eight of the nine companies in the highly competitive and desirable Austin market had pulled their units off the streets.

Back in May, we talked to the one remaining player in Austin – Bird's community relations lead Blanca Laborde – with the intention of writing about a "new normal" for mobility that again seemed just around the corner. "We've gotten a glimpse of what Austin and other cities can look like – fewer cars, safer streets, cleaner air," Laborde told us then. "There are a lot of benefits to personal mobility." That month, there were just under 20,000 trips. "We have a lot of data, so we'll keep looking at that data to adjust our operations to make sure people can get around."

We also talked to other firms as they planned their Austin reemergence, some in new guises due to industry shake-ups augmented by the COVID crash. Then more things happened – protests and unrest, reopenings and now re-closings, with masks and without. As it's settled in that we'll be dealing with COVID-19 impacts for months to come, we're seeing one "next normal" after another in quick succession, what Jason JonMichael, who oversees emerging mobility programs at the Austin Transportation Department, describes as "iterative approaches to things as we manage the next, say, 600 days." There are now four companies back on the street, along with Revel's shared mopeds, which are just now starting to see consistent use.

But JonMichael echoes Laborde when he says that, even in this challenging environment, "We're experiencing a renaissance around personal mobility." It's not hard to see why. The fear of contagion may have forced many back into the safety of their cars, driving alone – but knowing that this was unaffordable, inefficient, and environmentally catastrophic in the long run. Transit would need time to adapt to the new realities, which can happen here as it did in Asia after the SARS epidemic. JonMichael says, "There's not an aversion to transit if it's properly administering safety protocols for current conditions," which has been part of Capital Metro's game plan for restoring ridership after being forced to plead with its customers to stay home even as it suspended fare collection.

Read more: https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2020-07-10/what-are-the-next-normals-for-scooters-in-austin/

Deceased cat gets voter registration application in mail

Photo: Gagilas Photo/Getty Images

ATLANTA (AP) — In a presidential election year, there's always a push to get people registered to vote.

For one Atlanta family, that push got a little interesting.

Ron Tims said he checked his mail Wednesday and found a voter registration application addressed to Cody Tims — his cat, who died 12 years ago.

“A great cat, indoor and outdoor, loved his family, loved his neighborhood. He was 18 and a half when he passed away,” Carol Tims told WAGA-TV.


If you’re wondering how Cody would have voted if he could go to the polls. His owner said he was a DemoCAT.

The complete article is at https://www.chron.com/news/article/Deceased-cat-gets-voter-registration-application-15401593.php .

Houston business owner faces death threats after buying Black Lives Matter billboard

t was a heartfelt act of support that inspired Houston businessman Lê Hoàng Nguyên, to put up a Black Lives Matter billboard on Bellaire Boulevard.

"Having faced racism first hand over the years and especially having seen the recent social injustices in America, I used my personal funds to put a billboard that shares the message of Black Lives Matter," Nguyên wrote on Facebook. "I did not receive any outside funds. The opinion expressed is 100% my own."

Hoàng Nguyên said when he was only 8 years old, he escaped from Vietnam. He moved to America when he was 9 years old--without his parents. He remembers the one group that truly showed support for him at that time.

“I escaped Vietnam when I was an 8-year-old boy, and I languished in refugee camp in Malaysia for about 9 months," Nguyên said in a Facebook post. "Unbeknownst to that little 8-year-old boy, there was a group of black civil rights leaders who spoke out up for me. And they took out a full page in the New York Times on March, 19, 1978."

Read more: https://www.chron.com/local/article/Houston-business-owner-faces-death-threats-after-15405270.php

State Rep. Gene Wu, left, joins others Saturday in support of a Black Lives Matter billboard at 11107 Bellaire Blvd.

Kentucky lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A Kentucky lawmaker who heads a key education committee revealed Monday night that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a Twitter post, Republican state Sen. Max Wise said he began experiencing “very mild symptoms" last Thursday and was tested the next day. Both tests came back positive, he said.

Since then, he has “felt fine" and is no longer experiencing any symptoms, he said.

“I am thankful that I am one of the lucky ones who has not had to deal with the hardships that others have faced upon being diagnosed," Wise said in the statement. “Like the health care community recommends, I will be self-quarantining until I am released by my local health department and staying away from others in the confines of my home."

Read more here: https://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article244210747.html
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Fort Worth developer worries 'predatory' investor is using COVID to seize luxury hotel

FORT WORTH -- The developer of a high-tech luxury hotel in downtown Fort Worth believes an investor wants to seize control of two valuable properties by taking advantage of the coronavirus recession.

Farukh Aslam, developer of the Sinclair Hotel and the adjacent Sanger office building, accused the investor of “predatory lending” to squeeze his Sinclair Holdings out of the real estate in a court petition this week.

The complex financial situation involves multiple channels of credit and investment, but essentially JM Cox Legacy, under the name Sanger Lender, wants to purchase a $25 million Simmons Bank loan that Alsam took out in 2017 to finance the purchase and renovation of the historic Sinclair building at 512 Main St.

JM Cox Legacy is a firm associated with Midland-based oil company JM Cox Resources, where TCU donor and trustee Kelly Cox serves as president.

Read more: https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/fort-worth/article244107672.html
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