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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: 84,649

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

Florida man charged with using COVID-19 relief funds on Lamborghini

July 27 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors in Florida on Monday accused a man of defrauding nearly $4 million from a coronavirus aid program and buying himself a Lamborghini sports car with some of his ill-gotten gains.

David T. Hines, 29, has been charged with one count of bank fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution and one count of engaging in transactions in unlawful proceeds, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a release.

According to the criminal complaint unsealed Monday with his appearance before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge John J. O'Sullivan in the Southern District of Florida, Hines attempted to secure some $13.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans designed to help small businesses pay workers on their payroll amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The PPP was included in the more than $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that President Donald Trump signed into law in March.

Read more: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/07/27/Florida-man-charged-with-using-COVID-19-relief-funds-on-Lamborghini/5521595906617/

Georgia's governor, Atlanta's mayor to square off in court on mask wearing

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia judge is scheduled on Tuesday to hear arguments in an emergency motion brought by Governor Brian Kemp to stop the city of Atlanta from enforcing a mandate that people wear masks in public to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

But in a late night legal move, the hearing that was set for 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) Tuesday was moved to 2 p.m. so the two parties can attempt binding mediation starting at 8:30 a.m., according to a filing in Fulton County Superior Court.

Local media station WSB-TV reported that the governor plans to withdraw the request for the emergency hearing. That could not be confirmed by Reuters late on Monday and a representative for the governor was not immediately available.

The motion, pending before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick, asks the court to halt Atlanta’s enforcement efforts while a lawsuit works its way through the courts.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-georgia/georgias-governor-atlantas-mayor-to-square-off-in-court-on-mask-wearing-idUSKCN24T0H3

Tucker Slams NRCC by Complaining 'Karen' Is an 'Ethnic Slur'

Tucker Carlson on Monday inserted himself in the latest right-wing online controversy after the National Republican Congressional Committee’s official Twitter account called a far-right pundit a “Karen,” causing the Fox News host to complain that the term was an “ethnic slur.”

After right-wing commentator Kurt Schlichter repeatedly blasted the NRCC for its aggressive fundraising texts, the account fired back: “This text raised $198,021 toward electing conservatives to Congress. But we’ll certainly pass your complaints on to our manager, Karen.” (The “Karen” meme, at first, jokingly referenced a particular type of white woman with entitlement complex. It has since evolved into “a stand-in for 2020’s fraught social politics,” according to Vox.)

The NRCC’s tweet sparked an immediate backlash among conservatives, including Carlson. The Fox host, who has recently come under fire over the racist content of his show, repeated a previous complaint he’s made on-air about the meme. “Anyone know why the NRCC is using ethnic slurs?” Carlson tweeted on Monday afternoon.

(no more at link)

How California election officials are fighting disinformation

Jim Irizarry has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of false and misleading information about voting access coursing through social media lately. The assistant county clerk for San Mateo County, California, and his team have been training for this moment for years, since the sophisticated Russian disinformation machine emerged during the last presidential election.

“They don’t have to change a vote in the voting machines,” Irizarry said. “But if you can get into the minds of voters to undermine their confidence in casting that ballot, you’ve been successful.”

This year, state and local election officials across the country expect they’ll need to defend voters against potentially devastating and widespread disinformation attacks that could suppress turnout and sow doubt in November’s results.

Bad actors, from foreign nations to local gadflies, have countless opportunities to spread falsehoods and misleading information. In recent elections, voters have fallen victim to scams claiming people can vote by text message or claiming their polling place closed.

Read more: https://www.hcn.org/articles/election2020-how-california-election-officials-are-fighting-disinformation
(High Country News)

Patriot militia groups mobilize during a deadly pandemic and massive protests

In the first weeks of June, as protests against police brutality spread across the country, a group of people who were neither demonstrators nor law enforcement began to appear in the streets. These members of the Patriot militia movement — an assortment of groups defined by antigovernment, pro-gun and conspiracy-driven ideologies — watched from the sidelines, kitted out in bulletproof vests and camouflage and armed with semi-automatic rifles.

By mid-June, there had been 136 instances of paramilitary, far-right and armed militia groups or individuals attending anti-police violence protests nationwide, according to Political Research Associates, a social justice think tank. In Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, militia groups and motorcycle clubs gathered in hopes of confronting antifascists who never materialized. In Oakdale, California, rumors of a Black Lives Matter protest drew members of the California State Militia but few others. In Olympia, Washington, members of the Washington State Three Percent guarded businesses, at, they said, the owners’ request, posing for a photo with a police officer. (The police department later launched an investigation into the incident.)

The protests and concurrent pandemic have proven a boon to extremist groups looking to increase their visibility. During the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, Patriot militia members — particularly those in the Three Percent — mobilized around food drives and “reopen” rallies. Then, as protests against police violence spread, Three Percenters and other Patriot militia groups positioned themselves as guardians of private property and free speech. The leadership vacuum left by state and federal authorities in recent months offered the groups an opening, allowing them to accrue clout, provide services in lieu of government action and build political influence.

“We’ve certainly seen a clear pivot from militia groups active in the so-called reopen protests to, now, armed security in local communities,” said Amy Herzfeld-Copple, deputy director of Western States Center, a politically progressive organization that promotes inclusive democracy. “That has a real chilling effect on democratic practice. We see a throughline from militia groups mobilizing to exploit the pandemic to their military presence in small towns across the West — another opening for them to try and posture as providing a service that we’d normally look to government to provide.”

Read more: https://www.hcn.org/issues/52.8/north-patriot-militia-groups-mobilize-during-a-deadly-pandemic-and-massive-protests
(High Country News)

China's 'Bat Woman' Rebukes Trump, Denies Virus Link to Lab

China’s “bat woman” lashed out at Donald Trump, saying the U.S. president owes her country an apology as she again denied assertions that the novel coronavirus is linked to the Wuhan lab where she works.

Shi Zhengli, deputy director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said in an interview published in Science magazine that she and her colleagues encountered the virus in December last year, when reports of the disease first emerged in the city. She said the lab hadn’t seen or studied the virus before that.

“U.S. President Trump’s claim that SARS-CoV-2 was leaked from our institute totally contradicts the facts,” Shi said in the article published July 24. “It jeopardizes and affects our academic work and personal life. He owes us an apology.”

The question of the coronavirus’s origin has become an increasingly politicized issue as relations between the U.S. and China deteriorate. Trump, who has repeatedly referred to Covid-19 as the “China Virus,” and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have suggested a link between the Wuhan lab and the outbreak, although no evidence has ever been presented publicly.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-28/china-s-bat-woman-rebukes-trump-denies-virus-link-to-lab

Najib Found Guilty of All Charges in Former 1MDB Unit Trial

A Malaysia court has ruled former prime minister Najib Razak guilty in the first of a series of trials linked to 1MDB.

Najib was guilty Tuesday of all seven charges in the case involving 42 million ringgit ($10 million) of funds deposited in his personal accounts from a former unit of 1MDB. His lawyer responded by saying an appeal against the ruling is a certainty.

High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali told the court he found “the defense has not succeeded in rebutting the presumption on the balance of probabilities or raising reasonable doubt on the charge against the accused” as he delivered his judgment on the abuse of power charge.

The verdict comes days after Malaysia resolved settlement talks with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. over the bank’s role in raising funds for 1MDB during Najib’s time as prime minister. The bank agreed on a $3.9 billion settlement, including $2.5 billion in cash, in return for all its charges being dropped.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-28/najib-found-guilty-on-one-charge-in-former-1mdb-unit-trial

The $5.3 Trillion Question Behind America's COVID-19 Failure

That’s the amount of buybacks U.S. corporations funneled to shareholders during the past decade—rather than invest in technologies for the common good.

The United States has been woefully inept in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly, the Trump administration’s ignorance, incompetence, and malfeasance have exacerbated the death and destruction.

But putting in place a new administration that heeds the recommendations of science and effectively carries out the necessary containment policies would only remedy part of the nation’s failure to deal with the pandemic. The successful implementation of a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic requires collaborations between federal government agencies and those business enterprises that have accumulated the capabilities for the development, production, and delivery of countermeasures—vaccines, therapies, diagnostics, ventilators, and personal protective equipment (PPE). For such government-business collaborations (GBCs) to successfully confront the COVID-19 pandemic, the prime purpose of the companies themselves must be the development, production, and delivery of safe, effective, and affordable countermeasures.

That’s not their prime purpose now. How can it be, when senior corporate executives have an obsession with doing whatever it takes to boost the company’s stock price?

For a business corporation to be a reliable partner in a GBC, it must reject the ideology of “maximizing shareholder value” (MSV) and shift its purpose to corporate governance for the common good. The belief that corporations should be run according to the dictates of MSV poses a formidable obstacle to the collective action needed to confront not only a pathogen pandemic but also the scourges of income inequity and climate change.

Read more: https://prospect.org/coronavirus/americas-covid-19-failure-corporate-stock-buybacks/
(American Prospect)

The Texotics

When the rain began, the antelope and deer of the Y.O. Ranch Headquarters gathered to chew idly beneath the sparse trees. For 10 days in October 2018, a line of storms pounded the Texas Hill Country. Brown currents rose over a bridge on the ranch, spilling out over the roads and gullies of this 14,000-acre property 140 miles west of Austin. The flood tugged at the 8-foot fences around the ranch until it finally pulled them down.

That was when the kudu made their move, disappearing through the fallen perimeter fences on the ranch’s border. Native to Africa, the kudu is a brown-and-white-striped antelope species with long spiraling horns. The Y.O. Ranch population was ready for life on the lam. By the time ranch hands managed to repair the fences and conduct an animal count, virtually the whole herd—20 of 26 kudu—had escaped.

Exotic game ranches like the Y.O. Ranch have spread throughout Texas since the 1950s, providing hunters with homegrown safaris and passing motorists with glimpses of the surreal. According to Charlie Seale, executive director of the Kerrville-based Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA), 5,000 Texas ranches now contain at least one exotic animal species. Some of these are small operations; others are huge, like South Texas’ King Ranch, which is the state’s largest at 825,000 acres. Together, they host a population of more than 2 million “Texotics” representing 135 species. The result is a roughly $1.3 billion industry that generates more than 14,300 jobs annually, largely in otherwise struggling rural areas.

But as more landowners than ever stock mammals from all over the world, they’re running a massive unplanned and unregulated experiment on Texas soil. In West Texas, aoudad from Africa are a common sight in desert canyons; in the flood plains of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, herds of enormous Indian antelope called nilgai bound across roads at dusk. As these creatures breed on ranches and in the wild, they’re altering the landscape in complex ways—dispersing seeds, digging wells, turning over the soil—blurring the line between exotic and native. Because as the Y.O. Ranch Headquarters found, fences have a way of falling. And animals have a way of getting out.

Read more: https://www.texasobserver.org/the-texotics/

Texas's Oldest Lesbian Bar Faces Its Latest Challenge: Surviving the Pandemic

On a Thursday night in December, well before the coronavirus pandemic had reached the United States, two to three hundred women were gathered at Sue Ellen’s, a remnant of Dallas’s once-bustling lesbian nightlife. As one regular put it, “Chick Happy Hour” is a roving monthly congregation of the city’s lesbian socialites who gather the first week of every month, each time at a different bar. On this particular night, patrons passed from room to room in the two-story bar, flirting with one another as they made their way to the downstairs counter, sometimes ordering two drinks at a time. The place was so packed, someone could practically sober up before even making it back to their seat.

Dee Pennington, the creator of “Chick Happy Hour,” sat on a grandiose wooden armchair (which she calls her throne) on the Sue Ellen’s stage. Here, you can often find duos singing Indigo Girls covers, drag and burlesque performances, and karaoke. Pennington was celebrating her sixty-first birthday at the happy hour that night. After the bar collectively sang Pennington a happy birthday, she pulled a Barbie from her cake and licked the icing from the doll’s legs. Pennington says she felt happy—and yes, gay—that night surrounded by so many loved ones, including the bar’s owner, Kathy Jack. A few hours before, Jack had dusted off Pennington’s throne and presented her with the cake and the accompanying toy inside.

A matriarch of the Metroplex’s queer nightlife, Jack is a 62-year-old with a closely cropped silver fade. More than thirty years ago, she broke through in the Dallas queer nightlife scene as one of the city’s first women to manage a bar. (“There might’ve been one before I came into the community, but not that I know of,” she says.) Jack’s presence and ability to take charge of a room are rivaled only by her capacity for making patrons feel welcome. “She has the kindest brown eyes,” says Kathy Corbin, who’s been singing at the bar for two decades and, before that, dated Jack on and off. “They’ll fill with water almost every time she makes a speech to the staff.”

Except for a brief stint away from the bar in the mid-aughts, Jack has presided over Sue Ellen’s since it first opened in 1989. The venue sits among several queer bars lining what locals call the “the Block” along Cedar Springs Road in Oak Lawn, the city’s “gayborhood” that’s home to many LGBTQ bars. Sue Ellen’s remains indefinitely closed during the pandemic, though it briefly reopened last month. But Jack believes the bar will live on forever, and so do her regulars—after all, the bar has survived an epidemic before. Other lesbian bars have not been so lucky. Even before the pandemic closed countless small businesses around the nation, a 2018 report counted fewer than ten lesbian bars left in the country. Sue Ellen’s is Texas’s oldest, and is thought to be one of two left in the state (the other is Pearl Bar, in Houston).

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/sue-ellens-lesbian-bar-coronavirus-dallas/
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