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Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 66,162

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

Rockdale, Texas, Was Counting On Cryptocurrency 'Mining,' But Then 'Bitcoin Winter' Set In

Rockdale, Texas, an hour outside of Austin, was depending on a company called Bitmain – a Bitcoin “mining” company – to bring new jobs and revenue to the town after the Alcoa coal plant closed more than a decade ago. But when Bitcoin started losing value in 2018, Rockdale suffered. Bitmain postponed the opening of its facility, and ended up hiring a fraction of the several-hundred people it had originally promised.

Now, Bitmain says it will open its facility some time this summer, albeit on a much smaller scale. But for Rockdale, that might not be enough.

Mark Dent is an Austin-based freelance reporter who wrote about Bitmain and Rockdale for Wired. He says Bitmain’s troubles came at a time when Rockdale was already struggling economically – Dent calls it “Bitcoin winter.”

“It was a tough time for them, especially because of the way it went down,” Dent says. “There was also a couple of hospitals that closed in the last couple of years, and a coal plant; it just felt like more gloom and bad news.”

Read more: https://www.texasstandard.org/stories/rockdale-texas-was-counting-on-cryptocurrency-mining-but-then-bitcoin-winter-set-in/

Photo: Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT
Downtown Rockdale, Texas. Don't blink!

One Company Wants To Use Hydrogen For More Than Rocket Fuel And Fertilizer

Norwegian company Equinor wants hydrogen to be the energy source of the future: one that heats homes and powers factories. While hydrogen isn’t yet widely used for those purposes, it is a viable option, especially for energy companies looking to reduce carbon emissions. That’s because hydrogen can be made from natural gas – something Equinor has a lot of.

The Houston Chronicle’s James Osborne says the world is heading towards a low-carbon-use future.

“The world is going to be low carbon, which everything looks that way right now,” Osborne says. “This is potentially a good business opportunity for them.”

Osborne says European energy companies are often known for being more forward thinking.

Read more: https://www.texasstandard.org/stories/one-company-wants-to-use-hydrogen-for-more-than-rocket-fuel-and-fertilize/

New Rule Would Keep Central Americans Passing Through Mexico From Filing US Asylum Claims

Under a new rule published in the Federal Register, set to take effect Tuesday, the U.S. government will deny asylum claims from anyone who has passed through another country, en route to the U.S. southern border, and didn’t first seek asylum in that country. The U.S. will only consider asylum claims from those people if the first country denied their asylum request.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs is a homeland security correspondent for The New York Times, and says the majority of those seeking asylum in the U.S. over the past few months have been residents of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

“What this would essentially do is say, ‘Hey, if you’re from one of those countries, and you have not applied for asylum in Mexico, you will not be eligible for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border,'” Kanno-Youngs says.

The rule would affect those who have not yet made asylum claims. Many more migrants are believed to be on their way to the U.S., via Mexico.

Read more: https://www.texasstandard.org/stories/new-rule-would-keep-central-americans-passing-through-mexico-from-filing-us-asylum-claims/

You have to wonder if this is the last time the House will sit in judgment of Trump

The one thing we don’t need to debate in America is whether Donald Trump is a racist. He makes racist statements. He makes racist policy. He tweets racist tweets. He dog-whistles racist dog whistles. If dog whistling doesn’t quite get the job done, he tweets that four lefty congresswomen of color should go back to whatever — paraphrasing here — shithole country they came from, knowing or not knowing, it’s hard to know which, that three of the targeted women were born in America and the other arrived as a child refugee.

None of this is new. Trump began his presidency by trying to ban all visitors and refugees from seven majority-Muslim countries. His journey to the presidency began by becoming the nation’s most prominent birther. Back in the day, he called for the Central Park Five to be executed. Upon their exoneration, he still believes they’re guilty.

Why does he believe they’re guilty? Ask yourself what a racist is. Try to come up with a way to explain why Trump doesn’t qualify. Remember Paul Ryan’s “textbook definition of racism” quote? Trump has written a new textbook. The Atlantic published an “oral history” of Trumpist racism, which could serve as a foreword to that book.

That’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is the GOP enablers who stand silent — most Republican lawmakers — or even defend him. They’re silenced out of fear of those who make up the Trump base, few of whom, let’s say, fit the long-past ideal of the Party of Lincoln. Or they’re silenced out of fear of Trump himself, who, as we know, holds a grudge.

Read more: https://www.coloradoindependent.com/2019/07/16/littwin-trump-racist-tweets-pelosi-house/

Longtime executive director of ACLU in Arkansas retiring

LITTLE ROCK—The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas is retiring after nearly three decades heading the group.

The ACLU of Arkansas on Monday announced the retirement of Rita Sklar, who has served as the organization's executive director since 1992. The group said Holly Dickson, its legal director, will serve as interim director and a national search will be announced soon.

Sklar has headed the group while it's taken on several high-profile legal fights, including over four abortion restrictions that were blocked by a federal judge in 2017 . The group also successfully sued to overturn a law voters approved in 2008 aimed at banning gay couples from fostering or adopting children.

(no more at link)

National religious group delivers ultimatum to Mathis ISD over brothers banned from extracurricular

National religious group delivers ultimatum to Mathis ISD over brothers banned from extracurricular activities

MATHIS – In May 2018, Cesar and Diego Gonzales’ family filed suit against the Mathis Independent School District for the children being banned from extracurricular activities unless they cut their hair.

Both boys have long braids that they refuse to cut due to their religious beliefs.

Cesar has been banned for two years from playing football and Diego has been forbidden from participating in the student council, art and computer programming clubs.

Now, nationally recognized religious group, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, is stepping in with an ultimatum for the school district.

Read more: https://www.mysoutex.com/san_patricio_county/news/national-religious-group-delivers-ultimatum-to-mathis-isd-over-brothers/article_7470441a-a720-11e9-b86a-5b99bacde823.html

John Andrews' Islamophobic Rant Bookended by Gardner Praise

The theme of this year’s Western Conservative Summit was “Defending Religious Freedom,” yet the event’s most notable speech was a shockingly Islamophobic rant by WCS founder John Andrews. He said Muslims don’t deserve religious freedom and that he just doesn’t see how “good and faithful Muslims can be good and faithful Americans.”

Prior to his speech Andrews was honored by the event organizers with a lengthy tribute video featuring various politicians and leaders praising his life’s work. Among those showering Andrews with glowing words was Senator Cory Gardner. Gardner then appeared in person as the speaker immediately following Andrews’ anti-Muslim diatribe.

Watch Gardner’s segment of the tribute video, clips of Andrews’ speech, and then Gardner’s cheerful appearance on stage, in which he says it’s an honor to be there.

The Denver Post reported the irony of the event’s creator delivering this speech “while standing beneath a banner on the importance of religious liberty.” Two days later, the Post’s editorial board didn’t pull any punches:

“Andrews used language of hate to demonize a group of people based on their religion. It is intolerance and a form of small-scale terrorism.”

Read more: https://www.coloradopols.com/diary/124484/john-andrewss-islamophobic-rant-bookended-by-cory-gardners-praise

Thanks, Reinsurance: Colorado Premiums to Drop By 18%

According to a press release today from the office of Gov. Jared Polis, healthcare premiums for individual plans in Colorado are expected to decrease for the first time in state history:

Today, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), announced that for the first time ever, Colorado health insurance companies that sell individual plans (for people who do not get their health insurance from an employer or government program) expect to reduce premiums by an average of 18.2 percent (-18.2%) over their 2019 premiums, [Pols emphasis] provided the reinsurance program is approved by the federal government. These are the health insurance plans available on the Connect for Health Insurance Exchange, the state’s health exchange made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“For the first time in the history of our state’s health exchange, premiums are dropping. Premiums in the individual market are projected to go down by 18.2 percent on average next year, and as much as 41 percent in some areas of the state, so long as the Federal government approves our bipartisan reinsurance program. Reducing health care costs for Colorado families has been a primary focus of my administration, and today we are seeing the first signs that our hard work is paying off,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “The thousands of dollars people save can go to buying a home, saving for college or retirement, or whatever Coloradans want to do with it. I’m just thrilled to save people thousands of dollars on health care so they have more left to enjoy life. By saving families money and helping more Coloradans gain affordable, quality health care for their families, we can reduce costs across our health care system and continue our state’s strong economic growth.”

Colorado’s proposed reinsurance program — a bipartisan policy that has produced double-digit premium reductions in other states — is primarily responsible for these lower premiums. These decreases range from 10.3 percent (-10.3%) to 33.5 percent (-33.5%), all tallying to an average reduction of 18.2 percent (-18.2%) over 2019 individual premiums, across all plans, from all companies, across the state. Without the proposed reinsurance program, the companies’ requested premium changes would add up to an average increase of 0.5 percent (+0.5%). [Pols emphasis]

This is a pretty big deal, for both political and policy reasons (click here for more information on the Reinsurance Program). From a political perspective, Polis and incumbent Democrats can now go back to voters in 2020 with very real evidence to support arguments for returning a Democratic majority to the State Capitol. Being able to tell voters that you delivered on one of your major promises in 2018 is a tough message to beat.

As for the already-frayed Recall Polis groups — have fun explaining this one.

(no more at link)

GOP targets Democratic Colorado Springs state Sens. Pete Lee and Brittany Pettersen for recall

Recall petitions against two Colorado Democratic lawmakers were approved Friday by the Secretary of State’s Office.

The recall drives target state Sens. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood.

The filers are Republicans Scott David Fisher of Colorado Springs for Lee and Nancy Pallozzi of Lakewood for Pettersen. Both petitions are backed by the same group that backed the recall petition against Gov. Jared Polis, the Resist Polis PAC.

Both now have 60 days to gather sufficient petition signatures to qualify the recall for the ballot. The petition to recall Lee will need 11,304 valid signatures, while Pettersen’s petition will need 18,376.

Read more: https://gazette.com/politics/republican-targets-democratic-colorado-springs-state-sen-pete-lee-for/article_328d2f58-a505-11e9-b84d-53e010bf598d.html
(Colorado Springs Gazette)

Democrats running for Gardner's U.S. Senate seat rake in $4.5M for second quarter

The Democratic candidates running for U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner's seat collectively raised more than twice as much as the Colorado Republican over the same period.

Between them, the nine Democrats raised $4,554,089 from April 1 to June 30 and ended the quarter with a reported $5,127,293 in the bank, say new reports to the Federal Election Commission.

Gardner, widely regarded as one of the most vulnerable senators up for re-election next year, brought in $2,009,253 for the same period and had $4,919,791 on hand at the end of the quarter.

The Democrats might be outraising the incumbent at this point, but they're also spending at a rapid clip as the crowded field takes shape nearly a year before the June 30 primary.

Read more: https://gazette.com/news/democrats-running-for-gardner-s-u-s-senate-seat-rake/article_c7bd86dc-a829-11e9-82a2-0b8934bbd095.html
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