Tagged: Texas

Denton, Texas won Round One of the fight against fracking


Denton folks Michael Hennen and Susan Vaughan campaign to ban fracking

The fracking ban that came into effect on Tuesday in the heart of Texas might never have happened at all, if industry had not insisted on fracking beside a local hospital, a children’s playground, and the 100-year-old farmhouse that was Cathy McMullen’s retirement dream.

That brought fracking a step too far. McMullen believes such overreach – typical under the Texas regulatory framework – helped turn a ruby-red Republican town against fracking.

Despite industry objections – and death threats for McMullen and other activists, Denton voted by 60% to ban fracking last month. The victorious activists like to call their fight David v Godzilla, because the oil industry is so powerful in Texas. That fight is not over yet.

George P Bush, the nephew and grandson of the former presidents, will soon take charge of the General Land Office – one of two Texas state agencies that have joined an industry lawsuit to overturn the ban.

But McMullen and the small group of mainly female activists behind the ban are already inspiring towns in Texas and elsewhere that are looking for ways to rein in an industry that so far has enjoyed supreme rights to frack.

The oil and gas companies probably would be fracking still in Denton if they had not completely dismissed McMullen’s concerns, she said.

They underestimated us completely,” she said. “I think they all just thought: ‘Oh, it’s just Cathy.’ I don’t think they saw the storm clouds on the horizon, and that industry was creating this storm, and that it was going to blow into town, and everybody was just sick of it.”

RTFA. It’s a great tale of ordinary folks not especially political in their daily life – until they asked questions, tried as citizens of the United States and that supersized state of Texas to bring back the quality of life they had – before fracking started in the city limits of Denton, Texas.

Their victory has inspired others. Something the Godzillas of fossil fuel hate as much as an individual like Cathy McMullen winning her fight in Denton. Now, Reno, Texas, is cranking up the alarm of opposition to fracking in their small Texas town.

And they have to get things done on their own – just like in Denton. If there’s anything that the Oil Patch Boys own in Texas – it’s politicians.

Thanks, Mike — GMTA

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What motivates Texas’ voter ID law? Supreme Court Justice says — racism

As one might expect, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had no difficulty putting her finger on the point of Texas’ voter ID law: it’s openly racist.

Ginsburg’s colleagues voted 6-3 to allow the Texas law to remain in effect for the upcoming election. But as she observed in a scathing dissent issued Saturday, the measure may prevent more than 600,000 registered voters, or 4.5% of the total, from voting in person for lack of accepted identification. “A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic,” she wrote.

The law’s intent is “purposely discriminatory,” Ginsburg concluded. Citing the U.S. District Court ruling that declared the Texas law unconstitutional, she observed that since 2000, Texas has become a majority-minority state. That gave its Legislature and governor “an evident motive to ‘gain partisan advantage by suppressing'” the votes of blacks and Latinos.

Is there any better testament to the bankruptcy of Republican political ideas than the party’s consistent effort to win elections by limiting the vote?…

Like all the Republican-governed states using this ploy to stop folks from voting, Texas turned up two cases that it to court. Time and again these states waste taxpayer dollar$ trying to prove their patent-leather lies.

Here in New Mexico, our Republican Secretary of state wasted hundreds of thousands of dollar$ trying to prove “widespread fraud” as preamble to forcing a law as criminal as the Texas variety. At the end she found a dozen people improperly registered and a couple who thought they were supposed to vote. And tried. And were turned away.

End of story. Meanwhile, crooks masquerading as constitutional experts run this crap through the Supreme Court as progress because right-wing bigots say we are a post-racial society. I would gladly start believing in some sillyass deity if these turds were struck by lightning for their lies.

Thanks, Mike

Texas forced, once again, to release an innocent man from death row


Manuel Velez – a free man

A building worker from Texas, who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit, was released on Wednesday after spending nine years in prison, four of them on death row.

Manuel Velez, 49, emerged from Huntsville prison a free man at 11.32pm CT. He was arrested in 2005, and sentenced to death three years later, for killing a one-year-old who was partially in his care.

But over the years the conviction unravelled. Tests on the victim’s brain showed that Velez could not have caused the child’s head injuries. Further evidence revealed that the defendant, who is intellectually disabled, had suffered from woeful legal representation at trial, and that the prosecutor had acted improperly to sway the jury against him.

Golly – there’s a surprise.

Brian Stull, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who has represented Velez since 2009, said that “an innocent man went to death row because the entire system failed him. The defence counsel who are meant to defend him let him down, the prosecutor who is meant to secure justice committed misconduct, and even the judge made errors that were recognised on appeal…”

…When lawyers with the private firms Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, and Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber took up Velez’s case after he was put on death row, they were astonished by what they found. They discovered that expert opinion had been given in 2006 – fully two years before the trial – that destroyed the state’s case against him.

A neuropathologist had examined Angel’s body and recorded blood on the brain caused by a haematoma that was “well developed”. Crucially, the brain injury was at least two weeks old and was almost certainly inflicted between 18 and 36 days before Angel died.

The timing was critical, as Velez was not in contact with Angel until he moved into the Moreno home on 14 October, 17 days before the boy died. In fact, within the 18- and 36-day period specified by the neuropathologist, Angel was some 1,000 miles away in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was on a building job.

This key detail went unnoticed by Velez’s original defence lawyers who made nothing of it at trial, even though it had been prominently incorporated into the official autopsy report on Angel Moreno. The neuropathologist who made the finding was similarly never called as a witness…

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Dallas hospital changes story — admits docs knew patient arrived from Liberia

Late Friday officials at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said that the nurses and doctors who initially treated and released an Ebola patient knew that the man, Thomas E. Duncan, had recently arrived from Liberia.

Earlier the hospital claimed the its electronic health record used separate workflows for physicians and nurses so that the travel history in the nursing section “would not automatically appear in the physician’s standard workflow.”

In its latest statement “the hospital effectively retracted that portion of its statement, saying that ‘there was no flaw‘ in its electronic health records system. The hospital said ‘the patient’s travel history was documented and available to the full care team in the electronic health record (E.H.R.), including within the physician’s workflow…’

The hospital’s initial account triggered significant discussion of potential problems with EHRs.

The hospital offered no explanation for the conflicting accounts.

Har. Anyone can be guilty of a screwup but doctors. Nurses may have known and didn’t tell the doctors. The updated electronic health records system required by Obamacare must have been flawed – and therefore the doctors didn’t know the patient may have been exposed to Ebola.

Hogwash! One can only presume by Monday the hospital administration will have come up with a new and creative excuse for sending Thomas Duncan away the first time he arrived at the ER.

Which American state would you like to see secede?

…There’s always some idle secession chatter in the freedom-and-independence-loving United States, too. A new poll shows one in four Americans support “the idea of your state peacefully withdrawing from the United States of America and the federal government.”

But could it ever be more than a rhetorical phenomenon in the States? It seems unlikely, given that those who benefit most from union are those most interested in secession…

Secession got more support from Republicans than Democrats, more from right- than left-leaning independents, more from younger than older people, more from lower- than higher-income brackets, more from high school than college grads…. Of the people who said they identified with the Tea Party, supporters of secession were actually in the majority, with 53 percent.

In other words, it’s recipients of government largess who want to get out. It’s net donors to the government who want to stay. To wit, only one in five residents of the wealthy New England states supports secession, separatist-lusty Vermont included, versus one in three residents of the poorer southwest, where the urge is more pronounced…

None of that should surprise you. Survey polls like this also need to factor in a blowhard index?

But it takes a lot more than grit to make it as a new country — and generally, the poorer, smaller, and less-diversified the state, the worse it would fare after independence. Secession itself would also be extremely costly, though how costly would depend on whether the United States acceded to the plan (not likely) and how much it wanted to antagonize New Kansas or Free Texas or what have you. Would it forgive said state’s debts? Would it implement airspace restrictions, travel restrictions, sanctions, or even a full embargo? Might it bar a new country from the global payments system?

But let’s say we’re in a heartless, rationalist thunderdome-type situation. In that case, who deserves to get kicked out?

The article wanders through West Virginia, Wyoming, Hawaii, Alaska, Texas, Kansas and Vermont as states we’d miss the least.

I love when Annie Lowrey gets down to the real losers we wouldn’t pay to stay: Ohio and Florida. Both states trying their best to screw everyone with the wrong color, unacceptable sex, too old to care about education and too poor to be registered to vote.

And especially calling Florida America’s lunatic dongle really warms my looney geek-heart the most.

Thanks, Helen

Texas denies woman a driver’s license because of same-sex marriage


Connie Wilson, her spouse and one of their children

A new Houston resident is upset that she was refused a legal Texas driver’s license.

When Connie Wilson, her spouse, and three kids packed up their life and moved halfway across the country to Texas, the last hurdle she expected was getting a Texas driver’s license. She was in for a surprise when she went to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) branch office in Pasadena.

Wilson presented her California marriage license to DPS employee as a secondary form of identification. She and her spouse Aimee were legally married in California, and Connie took Aimee’s last name, Wilson…

Texas doesn’t recognize same sex marriage. The DPS employee told Wilson even though she and her spouse are legally married, the certificate cannot be used to authenticate who she is. She was denied a Texas License.

Reached in Austin, DPS officials sent Eyewitness News the following statement: “To receive a Texas driver license or identification card reflecting a name change from a same-sex marriage, a court order is required.”

Wilson says she doesn’t understand why she needs to spend money on a court order when the license already states her legal name…

In addition, Wilson is worried the closing on her house could have been hampered, and her inability to vote in the upcoming election…

Frustrated, the Wilsons reached out to Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), who is looking into the DPS decision.

“This is something that deeply concerns us, and we’re looking at this, because we don’t want this to happen to anyone else in Texas,” said the Senator. “This is not the way to treat someone who is relocating to our state, we need to make sure they can buy homes, get jobs, and register to vote.”

Wilson’s first mistake was presuming officials of a state as politically backwards as Texas would respond to logic.

The second was assuming Texas politicians recognize the United States of America and our Constitution as having authority and priority over the fear and ignorance of homophobic nutballs.

Rick Perry indicted on two charges of felony corruption

A Travis County grand jury Friday indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two charges related to his effort last year to force District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her drunken driving arrest.

Grand jurors charged Perry, 64, with abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony. The first charge carries a punishment of 5-99 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The second charge is punishable by 2-10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

The indictment stems from Perry’s threat last summer to withhold $7.5 million in state money from Lehmberg’s office unless she step down – a threat he later carried out by vetoing an appropriation in the state budget.

Mary Anne Wiley, General Counsel for Perry, said blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…

The special prosecutor in the case, San Antonio attorney Michael McCrum, said he was confident with the strength of the charges filed against Perry.

“There has been an immense amount of work that has gone into my investigation up until this point,” he told reporters after announcing the indictment. “I have interviewed over 40 people who were related in some way to the events that happened.”

He later added: “I looked at the law. I looked at the facts. and I presented everything possible to the grand jury.”

RTFA for all the political brouhaha that immediately followed Perry’s indictment. Everyone knows what sort of opportunist power-hungry liar Rick Perry is. Given the accepted level of corruption in the Confederacy, no one expected him to be indicted.

Funs and games ahead, folks.

Summertime – visit your favorite swimming hole, be attacked by brain-eating amoebas

Kansas health officials are urging swimmers to take extra care in warm freshwater, which could be home to millions of microscopic killers.

A 9-year-old Johnson County girl is the latest victim of Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba that lurks in warm, standing water. The girl died July 9 from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an extremely rare but almost invariably fatal brain infection…

Naegleria fowleri enters the body through the nose, causing a severe frontal headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early symptoms give way to seizures, confusion and hallucinations as the amoeba migrates through the nasal cavity to the brain.

“After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about five days,” the CDC website reads.

Of 132 people infected with Naegleria fowleri in the United States between 1962 and 2013, only three have survived, according to the CDC. One survivor, a 12-year-old girl infected in 2013, was diagnosed early and treated with “therapeutic hypothermia” and the experimental drug miltefosine.

“Her recovery has been attributed to early diagnosis and treatment,” the CDC website reads.

But spotting the signs of the infection is tricky, because tests to detect the rare infection are “available in only a few laboratories in the United States,” according to the CDC…

The infection is most common in 15 southern-tier states, “with more than half of all infections occurring in Texas and Florida,” the CDC’s website reads. Three-quarters of all U.S. cases have been linked to swimming in freshwater lakes and rivers, but infections have also been associated with slip-n-slides, bathtubs and neti pots, according to the agency.

The infection is not contagious and can’t be contracted from a properly chlorinated pool or saltwater, according to the CDC.

Eeoough!

Thanks, Mike

Mortuary moves – leaves eight bodies behind in the vacant building

Police shut down an East Fort Worth funeral home Tuesday where they discovered eight bodies in “varying stages of decay,” but the owners of Johnson Family Mortuary said the episode is simply a “miscommunication” between them and their landlord.

“We’ve done nothing wrong,” said Dondre Johnson, who runs the business with his wife, Rachel. “This is a funeral home. This is where dead bodies belong.”

The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office removed the bodies of six adults, one child and an infant from the mortuary on South Handley Drive. The owner of the building asked the Johnsons to vacate two weeks ago. Officers received a call around 8 a.m. Tuesday after the owner went to check on the property and found bodies inside, authorities said.

Police said in a statement Tuesday that officers entered the building “to conduct a protective sweep” and determine if anything had happened to the Johnsons, who were not there at the time.

Though some of the bodies had identification tags, officials were working Tuesday night to identify the rest and notify family members, said Linda Anderson, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office.

No criminal charges had been filed Tuesday in connection with the incident.

Police said the bodies were not stored in refrigerated rooms. A foul odor came from the building while officers worked.

Dondre Johnson, who eventually showed up at the scene along with his wife, said the bodies inside the mortuary had been properly stored, and one was embalmed and in a coffin bound for Nairobi, Kenya. He said the rest were kept in black trash bags…

Records show Johnson Family Mortuary has had an active funeral director’s license with the state since July 2011. The license is current through the end of this month but cannot be renewed because there are five open complaints against the business filed with the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

Officials said they can’t talk about the details of the complaints until they are closed. Two of three previous complaints were closed without findings of wrongdoing. The third, filed over a late death certificate, resulted in a six-month probationary penalty…

According to the company website, Dondre Johnson and his twin brother, Derrick Johnson, began working in the funeral business when they were 11. They were later mentored by noted Fort Worth pastor and funeral director Gregory Spencer, who was found strangled at an Arlington motel in June 2003.

No doubt there are an abundance of regulations in the mortuary business. There are additional concerns given the clients you’re working with – in the depths of despair and sadness. From what’s made it to the press, so far – I’d be worried that this particular enterprise ain’t exactly up to par on either.

Child badly sunburned — Texas school district won’t allow sunscreen — WTF?

A mother claims that her child wasn’™t allowed to bring sunscreen to campus and was badly sunburned as a result…

Christy Riggs explained that her 10-year-old daughter went on a school field trip and came home sun-burned because the North East Independent School District wouldn’t allow her daughter to bring sunscreen to reapply…

The mother shared that skin cancer runs in her family and that her father recently died from it.

A spokeswoman for the North East Independent School District explained that sunscreen is considered a medication and that children need to provide a doctor’s note to bring it on campus.

“Typically, sunscreen is a toxic substance, and we can’t allow toxic things in to be in our schools,” said Aubrey Chancellor…

“Where do you draw the line?” Riggs asked…“Do we say no hand sanitizer? Do we not allow school glue? When you have several hundred children on field day being burnt, then we have to ask ourselves, ‘Do you want them to be safe or not?’”

Chancellor explained that the school district may revisit this policy, since they review school policies every year.

You don’t need a year to review stupid!

It’s easy to understand why so many parents question the rules and regulations, style and content of the education their children are receiving. When you have petty bureaucrats like this – people whose brain cells are so clogged with lawyerese and timidity – how can you expect anyone to pay attention to the essential tasks of schooling?