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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: 78,484

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

Atheists to city of Rowlett: Let us give council invocations, too

A Supreme Court decision in May about invocations at City Council meetings left the city of Rowlett claiming victory, but Metroplex Atheists members say they instead are to benefit.

The organization, backed by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, is giving the city 10 business days to respond to a request to add two of its Rowlett members to the list of those who can give the invocation at council meetings.

“We would still rather see no invocation at all in government meetings, but if they’re going to have them, we want to push for equal time,” said Randy Word, president of the area group, which has been battling the city for four years.

A 5-4 Supreme Court ruling May 5 in the case Town of Greece, N.Y., vs. Galloway was viewed in Rowlett as affirmation of its policy.

More at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/rockwall-rowlett/headlines/20140702-atheists-to-city-of-rowlett-let-us-give-council-invocations-too.ece .

Cross-posted in the Texas Group.
Posted by TexasTowelie | Thu Jul 3, 2014, 06:15 PM (1 replies)

Perry Calls for Security & Federal Funds in a Congressional Hearing on Border Crisis

The ongoing surge of Central American immigration into Texas was the focus of a field hearing Thursday of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R - Austin) invited Governor Rick Perry to testify at the hearing in the Rio Grande Valley.

The governor laid out a four-point plan for handling the situation, including increasing National Guard operations, screening immigrants for medical conditions and federal reimbursement of the money Texas has spent on border security.

“Secure this border, Mr. President. Invest sufficient resources to put an adequate number of Border Patrol agents on the ground permanently and utilize existing technology, including drones and other assets that we know – we know how to do this,” Perry said.

Governor Perry suggested that drug cartels are using the tens of thousands of children coming across the border to divert the attention of law enforcement.

More at http://kut.org/post/perry-calls-security-federal-funds-congressional-hearing-border-crisis .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Thu Jul 3, 2014, 06:02 PM (0 replies)

Former Williamson County DA John Bradley Surfaces in Palau (Suppressed Evidence in M. Morton Case)

Disgraced former Williamson County DA John Bradley has come up for air in Palau, Tossed from office, ex-Williamson DA lands job in sunny Palau.

The fall of John Bradley was swift and severe and justified.

The high-profile Texas prosecutor and native Houstonian lost the Republican primary for Williamson County district attorney in May 2012. It was a post he had held for a decade.

He lost because even in a blazing red county that demands tough-on-crime justice, truth is important.

And Bradley had stood in the way of truth in the case of Michael Morton, who spent nearly a quarter century in prison on a false conviction in the 1986 murder of his wife.

Although it was Bradley’s predecessor, Ken Anderson, who hid evidence to secure Morton’s life sentence, it was Bradley who belittled Morton’s claims of innocence and vehemently fought testing of DNA evidence that had the power to set Morton free. The evidence, a bloody bandana found near the crime scene, was only tested after an appeals court ordered it.

Bradley’s stonewalling prolonged an innocent man’s hell by 2,400 days. It also allowed the real killer, Mark Alan Norwood, to roam the streets.

Since losing elected office, Bradley has tried to find work. In 2012, I wrote about him applying to lead the state’s Special Prosecution Unit.

No one would take him. Until now. It seems Bradley has landed another prosecutor’s post. Not in Texas. Not in the United States. In the tiny Republic of Palau, where, according to several sources, Bradley has accepted a position in the attorney general’s office.

The former U.S. territory of about 20,000 people in Micronesia was granted independence in 1994, and now operates in “free association” with the United States.

Barry Scheck, co-founder and co-director of the New York-based Innocence Project, said he learned about Bradley’s new job in a mass email from Bradley’s wife.


Scheck, at the Innocence Project, echoed that sentiment.

“He’s certainly going quite a few thousand miles away in order to reinvent himself and we’re all in favor of second acts in American lives,” Scheck told me Tuesday.

Even Michael Morton maintained his graciousness when I asked what he thought about the prosecutor who wronged him returning to prosecuting.

“I don’t wake up every morning gnashing my teeth and shaking my fist at, you know, ‘where’s John Bradley?’ I’ve literally and figuratively moved on,” he said.

“At this stage of the game, I wish him well,” Morton said. “And, you know, adios.”

Morton’s Houston-based attorney John Raley, who worked the case for free, and fought Bradley at every turn as he tried to stymie Morton’s appeals, was a tad less gracious.

“I’m not aware of any evidence that he has learned the lessons of the Morton case,” Raley said of Bradley. “His actions in the future will answer that question.”

Kuff says if pretty sums it up.

Other than one brief feint in the direction of acknowledging his responsibility in the Morton saga, John Bradley has never shown any indication that he thinks he did anything wrong. If it were up to him, Michael Morton would still be in jail, Ken Anderson would still be on the bench, and the evidence that exonerated Morton and ousted Bradley and Anderson would be in a box somewhere, if it hadn’t been destroyed. So count me in the tad-less-gracious group here. It’s fine by me if John Bradley wants to put his life back together, but he can do that outside the practice of law. Flip burgers, sell cars, groom dogs, dig ditches, paint houses – there’s tons of honest, dignified jobs John Bradley can hold that won’t put him in a position of power over someone’s freedom. If he truly wants redemption, he knows what he has to do to earn it. Grits, who is more gracious than I, has more..

The only thing I would add to that is the real killer would still be at large. And if you’re ever in Palau watch your back.

More at http://eyeonwilliamson.org/?p=13863
Posted by TexasTowelie | Thu Jul 3, 2014, 06:00 PM (4 replies)

"The Week" posts a piece of crap -- "Obama's greatest failure: The rapidly falling deficit "

Ever since 2009, when the recession and the stimulus package pushed the annual budget deficit to a peak of nearly $1.5 trillion, it has been falling steadily. Last year it came in at $680 billion; this year it is projected to total $492 billion.

This is an absolute disaster. It is President Obama's single greatest failure, representing the fact that he, and the rest of the American government, did not adequately respond to the Great Recession. It means that millions of Americans were kept out of work, that trillions in potential output was flushed down the toilet, and that the American economy was very seriously damaged, probably permanently, for no reason at all.

Simply keeping government employment on the Bush-era course would have directly created 1.5 million more jobs, and hundreds of thousands more through the multiplier effect, in which jobs beget jobs through increased consumer spending. Another stimulus would have had us at full employment years ago (and possibly would have even paid for itself in fiscal terms).

Instead, we've slashed spending and fired hundreds of thousands of government workers.

Of course, the situation is not entirely Obama's fault, given the pressure he was under from all sides to lower the deficit. His major failing was threefold: underestimating how dangerous undershooting the stimulus would be (despite being warned at the time), banking on a Grand Bargain to shore up his bipartisan credentials in the run-up to the 2012 election, and failing to understand how irresistible austerity would be to Washington insiders. Think of austerity as a big shiny bag of crystal meth, and D.C. elites as a bunch of jittery speed freaks who haven't had a fix in weeks.

More at http://theweek.com/article/index/264151/obamas-greatest-failure-the-rapidly-falling-deficit .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Thu Jul 3, 2014, 01:36 PM (4 replies)

TEA Chief Circumvents State Board Charter School Veto

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams has used his waiver authority to effectively overrule a vote by the State Board of Education to deny an Arizona-based charter school's expansion into the Dallas area, according to an email obtained by The Texas Tribune on Wednesday.

In December, the 15-member elected board voted 9 to 6 to veto Great Hearts Academies' application to open a new school in Dallas, citing concerns about the school's commitment to serving low-income students and to teaching Texas curriculum standards. The organization had already received approval for a campus in San Antonio, which is set to open this fall.

"I have no confidence, really, in the Great Hearts organization," board member Mavis Knight, D-Dallas, said at the time. She has led opposition to the charter school.

Williams, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, has issued no official statement on his decision. Debbie Ratcliffe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, confirmed that the commissioner had approved additional campuses in Dallas and Irving. Because the state had previously approved a charter contract for a San Antonio campus, Ratcliffe said, Great Hearts was able to apply for an expansion even after the SBOE vetoed its application for a new Dallas campus. In approving the new campuses, Williams waived a Texas Education Code requirement that charter schools must have been operating for at least four years, or hold "acceptable" or higher ratings under the state's accountability system before they are granted an expansion.

More at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/07/02/tea-chief-goes-around-state-board-charter-school-v/ .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Thu Jul 3, 2014, 02:00 AM (1 replies)

Ken Paxton, Republican Nominee for Attorney General, Could Be Stripped of Nomination

In May, State Senator Ken Paxton, who is the Republican nominee for Attorney General, admitted he violated state securities laws.

Paxton has already paid a fine for acting as the unregistered representative of an investment adviser. In May, when the violations came to light, Sen. Paxton was merely a candidate for Texas Attorney General, however, the Republican runoff is now in the past and Paxton is the nominee. Now, other, establishment Republicans are beginning to get nervous of what Paxton's nomination could mean.

In an e-mail, progressive ally The Lone Star Project has learned Republicans inside the Texas capitol may be urging the Travis County District Attorney, an office that also runs Texas' Public Integrity Unit, to move quickly to prosecute Ken Paxton.


However, if the Travis County District Attorney does not convict Sen. Paxton until much later in the year, but before the November election, Paxton would likely be removed from the ballot, leaving the election to be contested only between Democrat Sam Houston and third party candidates.

The complete article is at http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/15397/ken-paxton-republican-nominee-for-attorney-general-could-be-stripped-of-nomination .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Thu Jul 3, 2014, 01:52 AM (0 replies)

Money from Koch interests flows to governor candidate Greg Abbott

AUSTIN — Five months after an ammonium nitrate explosion that killed 15 people in West, Attorney General Greg Abbott received a $25,000 contribution from a first-time donor to his political campaigns — the head of Koch Industries’ fertilizer division.

The donor, Chase Koch, is the son of one of the billionaire brothers atop Koch Industries’ politically influential business empire.

Abbott, who has since been criticized for allowing Texas chemical facilities to keep secret the contents of their plants, received more than $75,000 from Koch interests after the April 2013 explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. storage and distribution facility, campaign finance records filed with the state showed.

The West accident focused public attention on the storage of potentially dangerous chemicals across Texas and regulatory gaps in prevention, data-gathering, enforcement and disclosure to prevent explosions in the future. In addition to the 15 deaths, scores of people were injured, and homes and businesses were leveled.

More at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/state-politics/20140701-money-from-koch-interests-flows-to-governor-candidate-greg-abbott.ece .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Thu Jul 3, 2014, 01:46 AM (0 replies)

Stupid or incompetent? Attorney General Greg Abbott now sees challenges over data on chemicals

AUSTIN — Attorney General Greg Abbott conceded Wednesday that getting information about dangerous chemicals in Texas is “challenging,” after earlier suggesting that people can easily learn whether they live near places that store potentially explosive substances.

Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, has faced criticism from Democratic opponent Wendy Davis and open records advocates since his office ruled in May that locations of some facilities storing dangerous chemicals such as ammonium nitrate remain confidential.

A stockpile of ammonium nitrate fueled a massive explosion in West last year that killed 15 people and injured 200 others. The substance is widely used in agricultural fertilizers and is stored in facilities around Texas.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Abbott called the ruling by his office a “win-win” — saying people know where the places are if they “drive around” and then ask companies whether they have chemicals under federal right-to-know laws.

More at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20140702-attorney-general-greg-abbott-now-sees-challenges-over-data-on-chemicals.ece .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Thu Jul 3, 2014, 01:44 AM (1 replies)

Wednesday Catblog: The Pawtty Animals

Ok, this is definitely not a fun subject to discuss but if you have a cat who drinks out of the toilet, it’s something you want dealt with quickly and effectively. So why do some cats actually prefer drinking from the toilet instead of their own water bowls? For some cats, the cooler temperature of the water in the toilet vs. the water in their bowl makes it more appealing. Water that has been sitting in a regular water bowl for hours or even days may not be as tasty at room temperature. I know you’re wrinkling up your nose at the idea of toilet water tasting better than water in the regular bowl but stay with me on this – we’re looking at things from a cat’s perspective.

Freshness Counts

Another reason that some cats may enjoy drinking from the toilet is that the water in there actually tastes fresh. This is extremely hard for a human to believe but again, look at it from a pet’s point of view. The water in the regular water bowl may have been sitting there so long that it has begun to taste stale. The water in the toilet may have more oxygen in it from recent flushing.

The Fun Factor

A cat may also develop the habit of drinking from the toilet as a result of play behavior. If there aren’t other forms of stimulation and environmental enrichment, kitty may develop an interest in watching the water swirl around whenever the toilet is flushed. That visual fascination may then lead to curiosity and she may dip a paw in the water. Some very smart cats have even learned to flush the toilet themselves.

If the best source of fun for the cat in your house is for him to hang out at the toilet, then it’s time to rethink whether you’ve dropped the ball when it comes to environmental enrichment.

Putting a Stop to the Behavior

So now that you know why cats may drink out of the toilet, what can you do about it? We can start with common sense, for one. Make sure the toilet lid is always kept closed — even if you have to post a sign in the bathroom for other family members. Remove the temptation by making it impossible for the cat to gain access to the water in the toilet.

Next, make the water in the cat’s regular bowl more appealing by changing it daily. You can also set up a pet water fountain that will keep the water oxygenated so it’ll taste fresher longer. The pet water fountain can also help if your cat was originally interested in the toilet water as a play behavior. He can now play with the very clean water flowing from the pet water fountain.

When you change the water in the bowl daily, be sure to always wash the bowl out. Cat hair, food debris and dirt can easily cling onto the sides of the bowl. If you want to make the water as appealing as possible you can’t overlook maintaining a clean bowl.

Increase environmental enrichment so your cat has other activities to occupy his time. Engage in daily interactive play sessions, set out puzzle feeders and provide more stimulation so the toilet loses its fascination for kitty.

Posted by TexasTowelie | Wed Jul 2, 2014, 10:43 PM (2 replies)

In Texas DPS statement, Wendy Davis pushes vet. funding program

Texas Democrats Sen. Wendy Davis and Rep. Joe Farias joined the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Veterans Commission in announcing a new way Texans can donate to veterans.

The state now offers customers to make voluntary contributions to the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance when they apply for an original or renewal driver license or personal identification card.

“For more than 200 years, courageous men and women have joined the U.S. Military and selflessly fulfilled a pledge to serve and protect this great nation at all costs,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a news release. “This donation option is a new way for Texas residents to honor and assist veterans across the state, and we’re proud to facilitate this effort.”


Davis, who is running for governor against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, sponsored the legislation during the 83rd session.

“We need to honor the sacrifice made by our veterans and military families,” she said in a statement. “I am proud to have pushed to create another venue for Texans to show their generosity and make a financial contribution to our nation’s heroes who have already sacrificed so much.”

More at http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/adam-d-young/2014-07-01/texas-dps-statement-wendy-davis-pushes-vet-funding#.U7OSqrFCz2Q .
Posted by TexasTowelie | Wed Jul 2, 2014, 01:07 AM (0 replies)
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