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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: 87,655

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

Critics blast governor over $100K kitchen renovation

When Gov. Susana Martinez took office, she fired the governor’s mansion chefs, saying they were a symbol of the excesses of her predecessor, Bill Richardson. But with the revelation that the governor spent more than $100,000 on kitchen and other mansion renovations — including a $2,700 built-in coffee maker — critics are taking her to task.

Administration officials on Tuesday cried foul, saying the renovations were in the kitchen and other areas of the public section of the mansion, not the more modest private quarters where the governor and her husband normally dine. The kitchen used for catered functions was in disrepair and potentially unsafe, officials from the General Services Department confirmed.

The upgrades to the kitchen, first reported this week by KRQE-TV, included $16,994 for new granite countertops, $10,617 for a granite slab, new flooring and glass tiles, and $9,996 to restore kitchen cabinets. Before that renovation project, which took place last summer, the state spent $9,479 for a new kitchen stove, Deputy General Services Secretary Mike Unthank said.

The state Democratic Party — which endured years of Republicans, including Martinez, lambasting Richardson for his mansion chefs, buying a state jet and other extravagances — wasted little time in attacking Martinez for the mansion renovation.

“Sadly, Susana’s stinginess apparently only applies to matters like education for our kids. When it comes to bankrolling her highfalutin’ Santa Fe lifestyle, Susana, it seems, can’t resist dropping some taxpayer coin on the finer things in life,” said a news release on Tuesday.

More at http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Local%20News/022713govkitchen .

[font color=green]File under "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous".[/font]

Tuition increase approved for 90,000 college students

Students at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond will likely see their tuition rise starting this fall.

The University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a 10 percent tuition hike at all nine of its campuses. Before the increase can take effect, though, it also has to be approved by the state Board of Regents higher education policy board.

The UL System is the largest college and university system in Louisiana with 90,000 students at the University of New Orleans, ULL, Southeastern and six other campuses around the state.

The move comes just days after Gov. Bobby Jindal released a $24.7 billion state budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Jindal’s budget relies on $75 million in tuition increases to help offset about $209 million in cuts from Louisiana’s colleges, universities and hospitals.

Edwin Litolff, the UL System’s assistant vice president for budget and finance, said the average increase for in-state students will be $546, bringing a year’s tuition to about $6,103, or 81 percent of the $7,390 Southern regional average.

More at http://theadvocate.com/home/5292229-125/tuition-increase-approved-for-90000 .

Bobby Jindal, Mary Landrieu spar over Medicaid

WASHINGTON — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to join other Republican governors in expanding Medicaid eligibility under the 2010 health care reform law is “disheartening,” Sen. Mary Landrieu said Tuesday.

Landrieu, a Democrat, said Jindal, a Republican, “seems to be adamant about putting his political future” ahead of the interests of Louisiana residents.

Jindal has rejected a plan to expand Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor. Under the plan, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the expansion’s costs for the first three years. That share would drop to 90 percent later.

The 2010 health care reform law originally required states to expand eligibility for Medicaid, but the Supreme Court ruled last year, in upholding the law’s constitutionality, that states could opt out of the expansion.

More at http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20130227/NEWS01/130226066/Bobby-Jindal-Mary-Landrieu-spar-over-Medicaid?nclick_check=1 .

Rep. Dan Flynn (R) says it takes too long to get concealed gun license

The rush is on at the State Capitol to reduce the number of required training hours in Texas, from 10 to four.


Leading the charge to cut the number of required hours by more than half is State Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van), who not only has his license to carry, he indicates to us he's ready to defend himself on the House floor.

Flynn says he wants to trim the number of training hours from 10 to four in order to eliminate much of the hassle and waste. He introduced House Bill No. 47 to make that change.

“You spend a lot of time taking breaks, you spend a lot of time hearing stories," Flynn said. "A lot of people who try to get their license, they have to take a day off of work, or they have to take a whole Saturday to go do this where, four hours, range time, you can do the same thing and it accomplishes it."

More including video at http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Safety-concerns-raised-over-193438831.html .

[font color=green]A pity party was held after the bill was introduced for the unfortunate people who have to suffer through the concealed weapons class.[/font]

Today, Democrats Are Officially Gunning for Texas' Electoral College Votes

This is day one of the Battle of Texas, which is mostly marked by a website launch. Battleground Texas, the Democratic Party's efforts to shake the GOP hold on the state, officially starts today. The site comes with a nifty graphic showing a red Texas filling up with blue (it's pretty low right now).

Heading Battleground Texas is former Obama national field director Jeremy Bird, and I suppose if we're carrying this battle metaphor all the way then he's the general. Politico of course has more of the nitty-gritty: Bird is joined by digital director Christina Gomez, formerly the Democratic National Convention's digital strategist, and executive director Jenn Brown, the Obama campaign's Ohio field director. The hope seems to be that these two will do for the Democrats in Texas what they did for the Obama campaign in two key 2012 arenas (online fundraising that outstripped Romney's efforts and campaigning success in Ohio).

In the Democrats' corner is the growth of Latino populations and urban centers. In the Republicans' is, well, history. The last presidential candidate without an R suffix to win in Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976 (Texas, among other places, turned on Carter in 1980). Governor Rick Perry told the Wall Street Journal that Texas going to the Democrats was "the biggest pipe dream I have ever heard."

Eventually making Texas as deeply blue as it is red now might be far-off/fanciful, but the more realistic goal is to make it a swing state. There are hopes (and concerns) of that happening as soon as 2016. Texas GOP Chair Steve Munisteri recently told Real Clear Politics that he's especially concerned about a purpling Texas if Hillary Clinton is aiming for the White House:

"If she's the nominee, I would say that this is a 'lean Republican' state but not a 'solid Republican' state," he said. "I don't know anyone nationally who's scoffing at this. The national party leadership is aware and tells me they're taking it seriously."

More at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/02/today_democrats_are_officially.php .

Big Tex Gets a Hand -- Just Not a Very Big One

Good news for those of you heartbroken when Big Tex, the 52-foot tall, 60-year-old icon of the State Fair of Texas, burned in a spectacular fire on the final day of the fair last fall. Big Tex has his hand back. Well, not exactly his hand, but an animated 3D drawing of what his new hand will look like when it's built. (Hint: It'll be big and hand-shaped. Also, judging by the knuckles, Tex suffers a touch of the rheumatiz.) Sue Gooding with the fair sent word about Tex's digits, along with some other digits about the fair's fund-raising efforts to cover the estimated $450,000 to $600,000 it'll cost to replace the big guy. So far, private donations have reached -- drum roll please -- more than $45,000!

Well ... shit. You cheap, cheap bastards. That's it? After all the tears and blog posts and photos and "Oh, Tex, we hardly knew ye" cries when Big Tex crisped like an over-fried churro, you people have managed to donate just 10 percent of the cost of returning the beloved big guy to the fair? Forty-five grand? That's barely enough to cover about how much 10 families of four would spend for a day at the fair, assuming they don't ride any of the good rides.


Why, Texas? Why are you letting Big Tex down? Is it that deep down you know that the replacement Tex will never be the real Tex? Is this a daddy thing? Look, if it makes you feel any better, you won't have to call the new statue Big Tex. You can call him "Uncle Tex" or, if you must, "Steve." And when the fair rolls around, you can die your hair black and get some piercings and act all pissed off and stuff.

No? Well, fine. Time are tough, and it's a new day in Texas, we suppose. Tex is having trouble covering his medical bills, but it's not like that's anyone's responsibility but his. We certainly don't need any "programs" or, God forbid, "welfare" to help him out. He's a state icon, daggummit, and any good, under-insured North Texan knows that if he needs medical care, he should park his charred butt at Parkland hospital's emergency room. The fair returns in September, and Gooding promises Big Tex will be there on opening day, so we suggest he hurry down to Parkland right away and take a number. Maybe they'll get to him by then.

More at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/02/big_tex_gets_a_hand_--_just_no.php .

A State Rep. Wants Ten Commandments Posted in Public Schools, Because Republicans Say So

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court answered the question of whether the U.S. Constitution allows the Ten Commandments to be displayed on government property with a resounding It depends. In a pair of decisions handed down on the same day, the court ruled both that a Ten Commandments display at the Texas Capitol passed constitutional muster while those adorning the walls of rural Kentucky courthouses did not.

The main difference in those cases was intent. The Texas monument had been erected in 1961 and had stood unchallenged for 40 years, which was proof enough for Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion, that it did not amount to an endorsement by the state of a particular religion. In Kentucky, the displays were more recent and a thinly veiled endorsement of Judeo-Christian monotheism which the court found, by a 5-4 margin, violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

Requiring the Commandments to be displayed at public schools is another matter. The Supreme Court settled that question more than three decades ago, ruling that such a mandate "had no secular legislative purpose" and was "plainly religious in nature."

State Rep. Phil Stephenson, a Houston-area Republican, is undeterred. On Monday, he filed a resolution calling for the Ten Commandments to be displayed at public schools and government buildings. Public prayer and frequent use of the word "God" would also be encouraged.

More at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/02/a_state_rep_filed_a_bill_calli.php?ref=trending .

[font color=green]Filed as House Concurrent Resolution No. 58.[/font]

San Antonio Democratic stalwart Mikal Watts under federal investigation

Seven months after hosting a private $35,800-a-plate fundraiser for President Barack Obama at his home in The Dominion, nationally recognized plaintiff's lawyer and Democratic Party stalwart Mikal C. Watts finds himself under federal investigation over the legitimacy of his client list in a case stemming from the 2010 BP oil spill.

Earlier this month, Secret Service agents, who not only protect the president but investigate cases of fraud, counterfeiting and identity theft, served search warrants at Watts' two law offices on the Northwest Side, the San Antonio Express-News has confirmed with federal officials and Watts' attorney.

Federal officials confirmed the raids, but won't discuss the scope or the timetable of the probe, including when it began.

“It's an ongoing investigation,” said Brian Leary, a Secret Service spokesman in Washington, D.C.

More at http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/S-A-Democratic-stalwart-eyed-4311412.php .

Advanced breast cancer up in younger women

Source: AP

CHICAGO — Advanced breast cancer has increased slightly among young women, a 34-year analysis suggests. The disease is still uncommon among women younger than 40, and the small change has experts scratching their heads about possible reasons.

The results are potentially worrisome because young women's tumors tend to be more aggressive than older women's, and they're much less likely to get routine screening for the disease.

Still, that doesn't explain why there'd be an increase in advanced cases and the researchers and other experts say more work is needed to find answers.

It's likely that the increase has more than one cause, said Dr. Rebecca Johnson, the study's lead author and medical director of a teen and young adult cancer program at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Read more: http://lubbockonline.com/filed-online/2013-02-26/advanced-breast-cancer-younger-women

More at link.

Texas senator moves to tighten abortion pill rules

AUSTIN (AP) — A senate committee has heard testimony on a bill that would tighten rules for doctors prescribing abortion pills.

Sen. Dan Patrick laid out Senate Bill 97 to the Senate Health and Human Services on Tuesday, the first step to passing the bill into law.

The Houston Republican wants to turn the drug manufacturer's guidelines into state law. Doctors frequently prescribe drugs in ways that differ from established guidelines.

Patrick's bill would require doctors to only prescribe the drug known as Ru486 to women in the first seven weeks of her pregnancy and following a physical examination by the doctor. The woman must take the pill in a clinic.

More at http://www.news-journal.com/blogs/talk_of_east_texas/texas-senator-moves-to-tighten-abortion-pill-rules/article_90e272d4-804a-11e2-a1dd-0019bb2963f4.html .
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