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Hometown: Austin, TX
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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,063

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‘Exceptional’ drought nearly gone in Texas

AAS Salsa Blog 5/31/12

‘Exceptional’ drought nearly gone in Texas

The latest drought monitor released today shows less than 1 percent of Texas is in the worst form of drought while 97 percent is at least “abnormally dry.”

Drought conditions have been improving steadily statewide thanks to a wetter-than-normal winter (and in some parts of the state, the spring, too). On May 2, the National Weather Service declared La Niña, the Pacific Ocean-induced weather pattern that typically creates drier-than-normal winters and hotter-than-normal summer in Texas, officially over.

Thursday’s drought report, a snapshot of statewide conditions from Tuesday, is the first once since March 29, 2011, to show less than 1 percent of the state in exceptional drought. That report had zero percent. This also comes after a bruising 2011 drought that peaked with 87.99 percent of the state in exceptional drought in October and left the entire state in some form of drought from September to November.

I pray to all the rain/water gods & deities and mother nature that we continue to receive the life saving water we need to live.

And to all Texans out there - don't let this fool you. You still need to conserve and change your water wasting ways. This is only a temporary reprieve.

Community Comes to Aid of Jailed Texas Honor Student

Yahoo News 5/31/12

Community Comes to Aid of Jailed Texas Honor Student

A 17-year-old Texas honors student who was jailed for missing too much school because she had to work two jobs to support her siblings, refused to accept the more than $100,000 a website raised for her.

"We saw her trying to work and trying to go to school and trying to do all these things and then to have the judge put her in jail for missing school just seemed a little harsh," said Paul Dietzel, who helped raise the money for Diane Tran. HelpDianeTran.com is a project of the Louisiana Children's Education Alliance.

But Tran didn't want the money: "There's some other kid out there struggling more ... than me," she said.

The 11th-grader's story sparked national outrage last week after a Houston judge charged her with contempt and sent her to jail after 10 unexcused absences in a six-month period, which is the law in the state of Texas.

"If you let one of them run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of them?" Judge Lanny Moriarty told ABC News affiliate KHOU. "A little stay at the jail is not a death sentence," he said.

The good news is that the judge has reversed his decision to send her to jail!

Texas Legislature to get more bat shit crazy next year

Texas Tribune 5/30/12

Straus Loses Lieutenants, and Senate Sees a Shift

In Texas Senate races, it was a night for the conservatives. Four Republican senators are leaving of their own accord, and all four could be replaced by candidates more conservative than the incumbents. Replace Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, with Ken Paxton, R-McKinney; Mike Jackson, R-La Porte, with Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood; Chris Harris, R-Arlington, with Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills; and Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, with Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown.

And then the election lost Straus some of the people he hoped to rely on in such a contest. The ranks of the vanquished include some chairmen: Public Education's Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands; Licensing & Administrative Procedures' Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, R-Lumberton; and Vicki Truitt, R-Southlake, chairwoman of the Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee. Marva Beck, recruited by Republicans two years ago to knock off Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco, the leader of the Democrats, was herself turned out by voters. J.M. Lozano of Kingsville, elected as a Democrat and then convinced by Straus and others to switch to the GOP, narrowly escaped defeat; he's got a runoff ahead of him. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, chairman of the General Investigating & Ethics Committee, is also headed to a runoff.

As with the new cohorts in the Senate, some of the nominees for the House are as conservative as the people they beat — Matt Schaefer, for instance, who defeated Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler — or more conservative than the people they are replacing, like Giovanni Capriglione, who beat Truitt.

If we thought this last session was bad, we ain't seen nothing yet!

Wrong man was executed in Texas, probe says

Yahoo News 3/15/12

Wrong man was executed in Texas, probe says

He was the spitting image of the killer, had the same first name and was near the scene of the crime at the fateful hour: Carlos DeLuna paid the ultimate price and was executed in place of someone else in Texas in 1989, a report out Tuesday found.

Even "all the relatives of both Carloses mistook them," and DeLuna was sentenced to death and executed based only on eyewitness accounts despite a range of signs he was not a guilty man, said law professor James Liebman.

Liebman and five of his students at Columbia School of Law spent almost five years poring over details of a case that he says is "emblematic" of legal system failure.

DeLuna, 27, was put to death after "a very incomplete investigation. No question that the investigation is a failure," Liebman said.

The report's authors found "numerous missteps, missed clues and missed opportunities that let authorities prosecute Carlos DeLuna for the crime of murder, despite evidence not only that he did not commit the crime but that another individual, Carlos Hernandez, did," the 780-page investigation found.

It was bound to happen. We've always known all along that Texas execution chamber industry is a kill them all and let God sort them out later kind of operation. And most republicans are just fine with that - collateral damage they'd say. Legal system failure does not begin to describe the horror of Texas so called justice.

May the wrongly executed Carlos DeLuna hopefully now rest in peace.

Last military vehicle to leave Iraq goes to Fort Hood museum

AAS 5/8/12

Last military vehicle to leave Iraq goes to Fort Hood museum

The last U.S. military vehicle to leave Iraq passed through the gates of Fort Hood on Tuesday.

It will take up residence at a military museum there and serve as a physical reminder of the end of the Iraq war. The mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP, belonged to Fort Hood's 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Combat Brigade, the last Army unit to depart Iraq in December. The vehicle left Kuwait in March, traveling on the cargo ship Ocean Crescent and arriving at the Port of Beaumont this week.

Under cloudy skies, the 14-ton behemoth rolled into Fort Hood chained to the back of a tractor-trailer about 2:30 p.m. Soldiers had scrawled "Last Vehicle out of Iraq" on the vehicle's heavily armored flank. A dedication ceremony at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum is scheduled for mid-June.

The design of the MRAP is a testament to the unexpected challenges faced by American troops in the early years of the Iraq war, when lightly armored Humvees left soldiers and Marines vulnerable to insurgent attacks and roadside bombs. The MRAPs, with their V-shaped armored hulls, reduced damage from improvised explosive devices and saved lives but weren't put into heavy rotation in Iraq until 2007, when the Department of Defense ordered more than 15,000 vehicles.

Soldiers with Fort Hood's 3rd Combat Brigade, which operated in the four southernmost provinces of Iraq, were the last to leave the country, with many arriving at Fort Hood around Christmas. The last MRAP was part of a historic convoy of Fort Hood soldiers and vehicles that crossed the Iraqi border into Kuwait on Main Supply Route Tampa just before dawn Dec. 18.

Now we need to get out of Afghanistan too.
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