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TexasTowelie

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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: 87,916

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

Librarians Could Be Jailed and Fined Under a Proposed Censorship Law

A bill pending in Missouri’s legislature takes aim at libraries and librarians who are making “age-inappropriate sexual material” available to children.

The measure, championed by Ben Baker, a Republican lawmaker, calls for establishing review boards who would determine whether materials in libraries contain or promote “nudity, sexuality, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse.” In addition, the boards, which would be comprised of parents, would root out materials lacking “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

Librarians who defy the review boards by buying and lending such materials would be subject to misdemeanor charges, fines upward of US$500, and a potential jail sentence up to one year.

As a librarian, and now as an educator who teaches aspiring librarians, I see this bill as the latest chapter in a long history of books being banned from public and school libraries.

Read more: https://www.towleroad.com/2020/02/librarians-censorship-law/

General Assembly staffers can't legally unionize, says organization helping them unionize

The public employees union that has been working with Delaware General Assembly staffers in their organizing effort now says those staffers can't legally form a union.

AFSCME Council 81 is citing a recent letter to its executive director, Mike Begatto. In the letter, the law firm hired to evaluate the union effort says that there is not "a successful path available for the union."

Legislative staff are "exempt from classified service, thus raising a question about whether the Public Employment Relations Board could ever establish a bargaining obligation for the General Assembly," reads the Feb. 19 letter from Philadelphia-based law firm O'Donoghue & O'Donoghue.

Even if they were able to find a way "past this hurdle," the letter says, there is a "clear separations of powers issue" and "we would be asking the judicial branch to impose a requirement upon the legislative branch through the executive branch."

Read more: https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/politics/2020/02/24/delaware-general-assembly-staffers-cant-unionize-union-lawyer-says/4858209002/

In final South Carolina push, Biden calls election a battle 'for the soul of the nation'

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Twelve hours before South Carolina voters head to the polls, former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday sought a home court advantage in a college gym before a cheering crowd.

“You hold in your hands the future of the Democratic Party,” Mr. Biden said, pointing out that South Carolina helped propel former President Barack Obama to the presidency in the 2008 primary election.

“If you send me out of here with a victory that’s significant, I think that I’m gonna be the next nominee,” said Mr. Biden, who Mr. Obama selected as vice president that year.

The event at Wofford College’s basketball arena at times resembled a pep rally — staffers tossed Biden T-shirts into the bleachers and played a hype video on the Jumbotron before the candidate’s entrance onto the court.

Read more: https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2020/02/28/South-Carolina-Joe-Biden-primary-Bernie-Sanders-Trump/stories/202002280184

Pa. judge who called black juror 'Aunt Jemima' made other racial comments, transcripts show

It just keeps getting worse for Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli.

After his racial comments calling a juror in a criminal drug case “Aunt Jemima” came out in January, he was re-assigned and many of his other cases as both a judge and prosecutor came under scrutiny.

Now, court transcripts of those cases show Tranquilli’s racial insensitivity didn’t stop with comparisons to the stereotyped pancake syrup symbol.

As KDKA in Pittsburgh reports, Tranquilli also made the following controversial and racially tinged comments during court cases or conferences:

Read more: https://www.pennlive.com/daily-buzz/2020/02/pa-judge-who-called-black-juror-aunt-jemima-made-other-racial-comments-transcripts-show.html

Mennonite accountant admits $60M Ponzi scheme to scam Mennonite and Amish investors

A Mennonite accountant in Berks County admitted Thursday he ran a $60 million Ponzi scheme that preyed on Mennonite and Amish investors.

Philip Elvin Riehl, 68, of Frystown, near Interstate 78, pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy.

He faces a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison and a $5.5 million fine. Riehl also must pay $59.8 million in restitution to the victims of the 10-year scam.

Federal prosecutors declined to say how many, if any, of his victims are Lancaster County residents.

Read more: https://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/mennonite-accountant-admits-m-ponzi-scheme-to-scam-mennonite-and/article_2ab6a456-5a47-11ea-89fb-7bb0f31836a1.html

State senator calls for inquiries into TRS practices

Just days after lambasting the Teacher Retirement System of Texas over its aborted plan to lease office space in the luxury Indeed Tower high-rise under construction in downtown Austin, state Sen. John Whitmire is calling for inquiries into the agency’s real estate investment practices.

Separately, a person with direct knowledge of the matter has told the American-Statesman that executives of the retirement system have privately revealed to lawmakers that TRS owns a large stake in the building, a disclosure aimed at blunting some of the criticisms of the $326,000-a-month starting office rent — or $3.9 million annually — the agency agreed to pay there.

Whitmire, D-Houston, declined to say if he has been briefed by TRS officials regarding the Indeed Tower ownership position. But he said he was dissatisfied by the public testimony of TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie about the lease during a hearing this week before the Senate Finance Committee, on which Whitmire serves.

“He danced around whatever he knows and could not discuss,” Whitmire said. “I don’t play games, and I think they ought to quit playing games and work in the direction of being transparent and disclosing everything they can” to retirees.

Read more: https://www.statesman.com/business/20200227/state-senator-calls-for-inquiries-into-trs-practices

Dan Patrick bans 'vulgar' clothing, launching free speech debate

Outraged that a witness wore a T-shirt bearing an expletive-laden, anti-police slogan to a committee hearing this week in the Texas Senate chamber, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick promised to ban future witnesses who wear “vulgar” clothing, igniting a sharp debate over free speech and its limits.

Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, issued his ultimatum in a Thursday night tweet that ended with a defiant: “Want to take me to court? OK. Make my day.”

“Future witnesses beware. No one will ever be allowed to wear such a vulgar shirt in a Senate hearing again — especially one that denigrates the brave men and women of law enforcement,” he wrote.

Patrick’s tweet was followed by hundreds of comments, many accusing him of trashing the First Amendment’s free speech protections, particularly for engaging in unauthorized “viewpoint discrimination” by singling out a particular message — anti-police statements — for censure.

Read more: https://www.statesman.com/news/20200228/dan-patrick-bans-lsquovulgarrsquo-clothing-launching-free-speech-debate

Study shows rural Pennsylvania school districts not benefiting from nearby fracking

Natural-gas industry boosters make several arguments for why natural-gas drilling, aka fracking, is beneficial for Pennsylvania. But their main argument, and one that is often repeated by Republican and many Democratic politicians, is economic. Industry boosters claim the economic growth and jobs, especially in rural areas, that come with the growth in the fracking industry is too good to pass up, even if health and environmental problems follow.

But a new study from Penn State University is shedding light on some of those claims, with a focus rural school districts where fracking is occurring, and it's not positive.

Titled “A ‘Resource Curse’ for Education?: Deepening Educational Disparities in Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Boomtowns,” authors and Penn State education department professors Matthew Gardner Kelly and Kai A. Schafft dig into the school district revenues in areas that were home to drilling rigs in between 2007-2015.

“Evidence from our analysis suggests that, on average, districts experiencing unconventional drilling had lower per-pupil revenues, locally raised per-pupil funding for schools, per-pupil income, and per-public property wealth than very similar districts that did not experience unconventional drilling," reads the study.

Read more: https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/study-shows-rural-pennsylvania-school-districts-not-benefiting-from-nearby-fracking/Content?oid=16835301
(Pittsburgh City Paper)

Students stage sit-in outside University of Oklahoma offices

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Dozens of University of Oklahoma students staged a sit-in for a second day Thursday outside OU's administrative offices following two instances of professors using racial slurs in the classroom.

OU's Black Emergency Response Team, known as BERT, gathered Wednesday morning in Evans Hall and called for the resignation of OU provost Kyle Harper, mandatory equity training for faculty, semester-long diversity training and a new multicultural center on campus.

Some students spent the night in Evans Hall and the group said it would remain there "until these demands are met."

The sit-in comes days after interim OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. announced that a history professor read from a historical document in class that used the N-word repeatedly. Earlier this month, an OU journalism professor stepped down from teaching the course for the rest of the semester after telling students during class that the N-word is no more offensive than the term "boomer."

Read more: https://www.phillytrib.com/news/across_america/students-stage-sit-in-outside-university-of-oklahoma-offices/article_1886c400-7f46-5452-974c-0b6dc78b5493.html

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Trump Washes His Hands of the Coronavirus



With Fred Willard!
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