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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, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 77,658

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

Sid Miller's Ag Dep't. Knew About Dangerous Pesticide Violations in 2015, Did Nothing for Two Years

On August 17, 2015, Harlingen rancher Danny Davis called in a complaint to the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Like many others who raise cattle and horses near the U.S.-Mexico border, Davis was caught in the state-federal fever tick dragnet — a mandatory program in which South Texas ranchers must allow their animals to be treated with insecticide to kill a deadly tick before they can be sold. Davis told the state regulatory agency that after U.S. Department of Agriculture employees doused seven of his calves in Bayer’s Co-Ral, two of the animals died. He suspected the USDA had used the chemicals incorrectly and wanted the state ag agency to investigate.

It turned out Davis was on to something. In December 2015, a TDA inspector found that USDA pesticide applicators had violated state and federal pesticide laws hundreds of times while applying chemicals to kill the tick, which can carry a disease that causes anemia and death in cattle. The inspector couldn’t prove that Co-Ral was killing cattle, but he did unearth a trove of broken rules. Among his findings: Federal employees failed to keep complete records of pesticide treatments; didn’t always wear protective gear when handling and mixing toxic chemicals; didn’t adequately warn workers about the stout pesticides they’d be handling; indiscriminately sprayed a poison that a federal judge has since instructed the EPA to ban; and regularly dumped Co-Ral onto South Texas ranchlands in violation of the chemical’s label instructions.

All told, Inspector Arturo De La Garza’s investigation implicated 17 USDA employees and revealed an agency culture defined by the regular misuse of highly toxic pesticides in the name of killing ticks.

De La Garza signed and dated his damning 81-page report on December 15, 2015. But Sid Miller’s agriculture department did nothing for two and a half years before finally issuing violations and warnings to wrongdoers in April 2018. What took so long? “The delay in finalizing the agency actions on this issue is solely due to understaffing” of attorneys in the agency’s enforcement division, said Mark Loeffler, a department spokesperson.

Read more: https://www.texasobserver.org/sid-millers-ag-department-knew-about-dangerous-pesticide-violations-in-2015-did-nothing-for-two-years/
Posted by TexasTowelie | Mon Oct 1, 2018, 02:02 AM (1 replies)

Will Matt Rinaldi Pay for Calling ICE on Latino Protesters?

The North Texas Republican has made enemies during his time in the Freedom Caucus, including police unions and his GOP predecessor. Democrats look to capitalize in November.

On the final day of last year’s legislative session, hundreds of mostly Hispanic protesters filed into the Capitol gallery overlooking the Texas House floor. Dressed all in red, they draped large banners over the gallery railing and drowned out the legislative proceedings with chants against the recently signed “sanctuary cities” ban. Some Democratic lawmakers applauded the demonstrators; Representative Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, preferred to start some shit.

First, Rinaldi called an ICE hotline to report the protesters, whom he presumed to be undocumented. Then, he walked over to a group of Hispanic lawmakers and bragged about the call. Representative Poncho Nevárez pushed Rinaldi, and Rinaldi threatened to shoot Nevárez — an altercation that made national headlines and capped off a toxic legislative session. Liberals quickly promised that Rinaldi, who won his 2016 election by less than 2 percentage points, had signed his own political death warrant. “Texans will ensure that Republican Matt Rinaldi’s pathetic political career and dangerous agenda comes to an end,” avowed Manny Garcia, deputy director of the Texas Democratic Party.

Executing that warrant now falls to Julie Johnson, 52, a longtime Dallas trial attorney. With a campaign emphasizing public education and health care, Johnson has shown fundraising chops, pulling in more than $450,000 as of July — more than four times Rinaldi’s haul over the same period. In a district that’s only 42 percent Anglo and that Hillary Clinton carried by 8 points, Johnson, whose wife is a physician, has homed in on Rinaldi’s ICE call and record of supporting anti-LGBT legislation. “People in this district don’t appreciate their representative being discriminatory and behaving in a bigoted way as he has,” Johnson told the Observer.

Johnson added that some of her campaign volunteers were among the protesters Rinaldi reported to ICE. For his part, Rinaldi told the Observer that voters in his district view his call to ICE as “reasonable” and said the protesters were “shutting down our legislature by force and resisting police officers.”

Read more: https://www.texasobserver.org/will-matt-rinaldi-pay-for-calling-ice-on-latino-protesters/
Posted by TexasTowelie | Mon Oct 1, 2018, 01:49 AM (0 replies)

Sadly, This Beto O'Rourke Funko Pop Isn't Real

Reddit is making hearts skip again.

The image of a Beto O'Rourke Funko Pop doll complete with a Whataburger skate board popped up on the social media site early last night as shared by user txfan4549.

Sadly, Triple-meat Liberals will have to wait a little longer for a Beto Pop as commenter ShadowD24 pointed out that it's definitely not a real promotion.

"I work for Whataburger can confirm this is false. Sadly enough, I am totally down for this to happen but feel like to much of the client base would have some kind of heart attacks over this," ShadowD24 wrote.

The image, created by Dallas-based designer Mark Fallis (also responsible for the Shiner Whataburger mockup shared earlier this year), is already making the rounds on Instagram as well.

Read more: https://www.sacurrent.com/Flavor/archives/2018/09/27/sadly-this-beto-orourke-funko-pop-isnt-real
Posted by TexasTowelie | Mon Oct 1, 2018, 01:26 AM (3 replies)

Swiss Company's Oil Export Plans Could Threaten Corpus Christi's Port Expansion

A Swiss company’s plans to export American oil could mean millions in lost revenue for the Port of Corpus Christi, and port officials are now challenging their new rival.

The port is the nation’s largest oil exporter, and it wants to further dominate the market with a ship channel expansion to make room for huge tanker ships.

Enter Switzerland competitor Trafigura.

A subsidiary of the company called Texas Gulf Terminals is planning a nearby facility that could be built before the port expansion is finished.

Analyst Sandy Fielden with the research firm Morningstar says the rival project could provide oil companies a cheaper, quicker alternative to send their product abroad.

Read more: https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/energy-environment/2018/09/28/305805/swiss-companys-oil-export-plans-could-threaten-corpus-christis-port-expansion/
Posted by TexasTowelie | Mon Oct 1, 2018, 12:57 AM (0 replies)

Did Political Donations Change the Outcome of a $1 Million Case?

Political donations are behind an appellate court ruling that overturned a jury's verdict requiring an apartment company to pay $1 million to two women raped by a man who entered their Garland home through a window with a broken latch, the women's attorney claims in a motion filed this week.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer John McCraw writes that the timing and the amount of the donations, and the fact they went to two justices on the three-judge panel that overturned the case, are too unlikely to be mere coincidence. He's asking Justices Craig Stoddart and Molly Francis on the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals to recuse themselves from the case, which is still under appeal.

The case was already freighted with politics because the two women were in a relationship when the violent assaults happened in 2014. One of the victims told the Morning News after the verdict was overturned that she suspected conservative bias against lesbians played a role in the appeals court decision.

In his motion calling for Stoddart and Francis to remove themselves from the case, McCraw went further, claiming that two political action committees made coordinated contributions to the two justices before the case was assigned to the panel that heard the appeal. The plaintiffs are seeking a hearing before the entire 13-member appeals court, minus Stoddart and Francis.

Read more: https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/did-political-donations-change-the-outcome-of-a-case-11187593

Ken Paxton Backs Expulsion of Student Who Refused to Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance

In the fall of 2017, seventeen-year-old India Landry was expelled from Windfern High School in Cy-Fair, outside of Houston. She’d been in trouble at the school that year, but not for her grades or disciplinary issues. Rather, she was in the principal’s office after being kicked out of English class five times already that semester for her refusal to stand during the pledge of allegiance. When the pledge came over the intercom that morning, she again stayed seated, while the principal and a school secretary stood. The principal asked her to stand, she told KHOU. “I said I wouldn’t, and she said, ‘Well, you’re kicked out of here,'” Landry told reporters.

Landry had refused to stand for the anthem for a year and a half, according to a New York Times story from last fall, before she was expelled. After the case received media attention, principal Martha Strother reversed course and allowed Landry to resume classes. The lawsuit Landry filed in response to her initial expulsion, though, remains in court, challenging the constitutionality of a Texas law that requires students to have written parental permission in order to decline to stand for the pledge of allegiance.

Texas law requires students to recite the pledge (under the statute, standing isn’t required) with the caveat that “On written request from a student’s parent or guardian, a school district or open-enrollment charter school shall excuse the student from reciting a pledge of allegiance.” This week, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he’d be using his office to attempt to ensure that section of the Texas Education Code remains in place amid the legal challenge.

The suit—and Paxton’s response—raise a few questions. Paxton’s motion to intervene argues that the state has an interest in ensuring that the daily recitation of the pledge of allegiance is included as part of the educational experience of every Texan, and states that the parental opt-out offers an appropriate remedy to families concerned that the forced recitation of the pledge goes against their values. Landry’s suit argues that students have free speech rights irrespective of their parents, and that those rights are violated by the statute in question.

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/ken-paxton-high-school-pledge-allegiance/

Lupe Valdez Comes on Strong in Debate Against Greg Abbott. But is it Enough?

Even before the first question was asked in the Friday night governor’s debate at the LBJ Library in Austin, the outcome of the race between incumbent Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Lupe Valdez was a foregone conclusion. To change that, Valdez needed to force a fatal mistake by Abbott. That didn’t happen.

Although a different Valdez showed up for the Friday debate than we’ve been seeing all year, she didn’t deliver the rhetorical knock-out punch that she needed. She started her campaign earlier this year as a bumbler who knew little about state government. In the debate, Valdez showed she has learned a lot and could put a human face on issues, while Abbott talked about them in a way that would make a bureaucrat proud. It was passion versus policy.

Their sharpest division occurred when they discussed the law known as the Texas Dream Act. The law allows undocumented youth to pay in-state tuition for college if they have graduated from a state high school. The bill was signed into law by former Governor Rick Perry.

Abbott said he would favor repealing the law because it contains a flaw—it requires a student to work on a path to citizenship. That is impossible, Abbott said, because federal law gives no undocumented immigrant in America a path to citizenship. “The legislators who passed that Dream Act, they had a noble cause behind what they were seeking to do, but there was a flaw in the structure of what they passed,” Abbott said. “The law that passed who said these students who received in-state tuition had to demonstrate that they were on a pathway to achieving legal status; however, there is no apparatus in the law to make sure that is, in fact, being done. Hence, the law as structured is flawed and has to be fixed.”

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/lupe-valdez-comes-strong-debate-greg-abbott-enough/

Democratic Socialists harassed, called 'Commies' by group of men at Silver Dollar

A group of Democratic Socialists who were holding a public meeting at a Louisville restaurant Thursday night were harassed and attacked by a group of anti-leftists, according to the owner of The Silver Dollar.

The Louisville chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America was hosting an event at the popular Frankfort Avenue restaurant from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, according to a public Facebook event.

Shortly after the Democratic Socialists had gathered, at least four men began taunting and swearing at them from the sidewalk near the whiskey bar and restaurant's patio and telling them to leave, according to a Courier Journal review of a video from the encounter in the Clifton neighborhood east of downtown.

The police arrived around 8:10 p.m. There were no arrests or severe injuries.

Read more: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2018/09/28/silver-dollar-white-nationalists-attacked-democratic-socialists-louisville-bar/1451993002/

Group demands Ohio County Schools stop public prayer

A Wisconsin-based organization that works to "protect the constitutional separation between church and state" sent a letter to Ohio County Public Schools this week, demanding they not allow public prayers at school-sponsored events.

The letter was sent Sept. 26 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The letter, which was addressed to school superintendent Scott Lewis, was prompted by an Aug. 24 incident, where a student recited a prayer at a football game using the public address system.

Colin McNamara, an attorney with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, wrote that the Supreme Court struck down invocations over loudspeakers at public school athletic events, regardless of whether the prayer was led by a student. McNamara wrote the Supreme Court found a prayer at a school-sponsored event "would lead an objective observer to perceive it as a state endorsement of religion."

The complaint came from a family in the school district the letter said.

Read more: http://www.messenger-inquirer.com/news/local/group-demands-ohio-county-schools-stop-public-prayer/article_d4a7be0e-985f-5688-b85f-60b171ef7724.html

Will this lawsuit cause Kentucky's state pension fund to collapse?

Kentucky’s beleaguered $2 billion pension fund for state workers, which has only 13% of the assets it needs for future obligations, faces a potential ticking time bomb in the courtroom.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has been asked to decide if Centerstone — the regional mental-health nonprofit in Louisville formerly known as Seven Counties Services — should get to use a bankruptcy reorganization to walk away from its estimated $130 million in liabilities to the Kentucky Retirement Systems, which manages the pension fund. Judges in other courts so far have approved it.

While $130 million is a hefty sum, an even bigger concern for state officials is whether the dozen regional mental-health nonprofits remaining in KRS would use bankruptcy as their own escape route if the Supreme Court permits it for Centerstone. Several have been fighting with KRS in court for years, attempting different strategies to move employees out of the state retirement system and cut their pension contribution costs. But no one else has tried bankruptcy — yet.

Those regional mental-health nonprofits represent about $1 billion of the total $15 billion in unfunded liabilities faced by the state pension fund, known as the Kentucky Employees Retirement System, or KERS. They were among the “quasi-governmental” entities allowed to join KRS over the years, despite some controversy because they are independently run, not part of state government.

Read more: https://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article219101045.html
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