Monday, April 30, 2007

smu graduate returns diploma to protest bush library

Utterly revolted by the idea of her alma mater playing host to a library and think-tank for President Bush, Marilyn Trent sent her diploma back to Southern Methodist University.

Trent encourages other SMU graduates to do the same if they can part with their hard-earned diplomas. "The returning of my diploma was a personal decision on my part. I saw it as an action that might encourage other alumni who are disgusted by this development to protest," Trent said in an email.

She also hopes that SMU faculty will continue to speak out against the Bush library complex on their campus: "If those associated with the university who have jobs at stake are brave enough to speak up, all the more should those of us who can't be intimidated be willing to join with them."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

shaquanda cotton: home free

In March, we brought you the story of 15-year-old Shaquanda Cotton who was locked away in the TYC for shoving a hall monitor at her school in Paris, Texas.

We also let you know that after the story broke, Shaquanda Cotton was to be released from the TYC.

We are happy to report that Shaquanda Cotton is safe at home, according to Grits for Breakfast and Dallas South Blog. Above is a video of Cotton's release from the youth jail, and a happy reunion with her mother.

Apparently, Cotton will go back to school and study to become a lawyer to help prevent further miscarriages of justice like the one she was forced to endure.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

tuesday night link dump

Here are some blogs you should definitely check out while you're waiting out this nasty weather. If it's safe for you to be near the computer, here's some reading material.

The Gonzo Muckraker has decided to vote for Republican Ron Paul in the primaries. Check out his reasons for letting his political pendulum swing (he's an independent).

WhosPlayin? blasts State Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, for supporting a "de facto poll tax" by co-authoring HB 626, legislation that would require voters to present birth certificates or other forms of identification.

According to Job's Anger, the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth told his students that if a tragedy like that of Virginia Tech ever occured on their campus, he expected his students to "charge the shooter."

Back from Austin, Capitol Annex has information on Frisco Mayor Kathy Seei's plan to challenge Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Rockwall, in the 2008 Republican primary. Also check out the picture of Vince meeting Rep. Senfronia Thompson!

Blue Oklahoma has some exciting information on a possible challenger to the crazy Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe: State Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City.

severe weather hits north texas

You've no doubt noticed the severe weather if you live in North Texas as we do. This is just an update for those who may not have seen the following warnings. Please get to safety if you live in any of these counties.

Tarrant County

Collin, Dallas, Denton, Erath, Grayson, Hood, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell, Tarrant, and Wise Counties

Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, and Tarrant Counties

Collin, Denton, Fannin, Grayson, Parker, Tarrant, and Wise Counties

Breaking news and more information is available at

A Race to the Bottom

Participants in Women’s Legislative Days, held in Austin in January, were introduced to a publication entitled "Texas on the Brink: How Texas Ranks Among the 50 States," issued by Senator Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso.

Several Texas blogs, including TexasKaos and the Houston Chronicle blog, have cited statistics from the report, but these facts bear repeating because they quantify our state’s race for the bottom.

Here are just a few statistics from the report:

  • Texas ranks 50th in the percentage of adults with a high school diploma
  • Texas SAT scores rank 47th
  • Texas ranks 44th in the percentage of women living above the poverty level
  • Texas is 1st in the number of job discrimination lawsuits
  • Texas is 5th in teenage birth rate
  • Texas ranks first in the percentage of uninsured children and adults
  • Texas ranks 44th in the percentage of eligible voters who vote
  • The most disturbing statistic from the report, however, is this: 45% of families in Texas earn poverty-level wages. Thus, we have the dubious distinction of being 2nd in the nation in income inequality between rich and poor.

    When John Edwards talks about two Americas—one for the rich, another for the poor—Texas illustrates his point. That’s surely nothing to brag about.

    Sunday, April 22, 2007

    Follow the Money

    In a front-page article in Saturday’s Washington Post, Amit R. Paley reports that the Justice Department in investigating profiteering and cronyism connected to the No Child Left Behind law.

    At the center of the investigation is Reading First, a Department of Education program which provides $1 billion in grants each year to improve reading for children in kindergarten through third grade. Under NCLB, third grade students are required to pass the reading test to advance to the fourth grade. Education Department employees who oversaw these grants, including Christopher J. Doherty, former director of Reading First, steered recipients to purchase certain textbooks and tests with their grant money. Doherty’s wife was a paid consultant for Direct Instruction, which investigators said Doherty “tried to force schools to use.”

    Dynamic Measurement Group, developer of another reading test, made $1.3 million after being “endorsed by a Reading First evaluation panel.” Half-owner of the company, Roland H. Good III, was a member of the panel. Other members of the panel also profited from Reading First endorsements. In fact, 7 of the 24 tests endorsed by the Reading First panel had ties to panel members.

    In Texas, vigilance is necessary to insure that everything associated with the multi-million dollar testing industry is above board. Lucrative contracts to develop and score tests, in addition to teaching materials to prepare students for the tests, provide ample opportunity for cronyism and influence peddling to become part of the selection process. TAKS and NCLB should not become avenues for the well-connected to enrich themselves at tax-payer expense.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    Supreme Court Rules on Late Term Abortion

    In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court today voted to uphold the "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003" which bans a procedure used to terminate pregnancies after the first trimester. The procedure in question, intact dilation and extraction, represents about 2,200 abortion procedures performed yearly.

    So much of this debate is in the abstract. Texas Kaos has an affecting story about a woman who had the procedure after learning her baby had spina bifida. Read this story and then ask yourself whether you want the government making this choice instead of leaving it to a patient and her doctor.

    Here is a sampling of responses to the court's decision:

    U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. -- a Judiciary Committee member who opposed confirming Roberts and Alito -- said she's "truly shocked" at "a major strike against woman's right to choose. ... This decision clearly demonstrates the real impact on privacy rights that has occurred through President Bush's efforts to nominate judges whose views are out of the mainstream of American legal thought."

    House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, called it "the height of arrogance. The five Justices who voted to ban this procedure must believe that having `juris doctor' degrees entitles them to instruct the nation's medical professionals on patient care.

    Rudy Giuliani issued a statement: "The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion. I agree with it." But in 2000, Giuliani said he agreed with President Clinton's veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997, saying then -- in response to a question about whether if he, as a senator, would have "vote[d] with the president or against the president" -- that he would have "vote[d] to preserve the option for women."

    Senator Barack Obama: I strongly disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling, which dramatically departs from previous precedents safeguarding the health of pregnant women. As Justice Ginsburg emphasized in her dissenting opinion, this ruling signals an alarming willingness on the part of the conservative majority to disregard its prior rulings respecting a woman’s medical concerns and the very personal decisions between a doctor and patient. I am extremely concerned that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman's right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade, which is established federal law and a matter of equal rights for women.

    John Edwards: "This hard right turn is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake -- starting with, as the court made all too clear today, a woman's right to choose."

    Amy Hagstrom Miller, board chairman of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers: "There is definitely a concern that this ruling could come down and really affect procedures done as early as 12 weeks. The providers want to know that what we do is okay. We are the kind of people that comply with laws."

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg: "According to the expert testimony … introduced, the safety advantages of intact D&E are marked for women with certain medical conditions, for example, uterine scarring, bleeding disorders, heart disease, or compromised immune systems......The majority's decision "cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this court -- and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lives."

    Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition: "Clearly, this decision paves the way for the eventual overturning of Roe v. Wade. Our hope is that the Department of Justice will move aggressively to ensure the bipartisan banning of this barbaric procedure is immediately enforced. "

    Senator Sam Brownback: “I applaud the Court for finding that the constitution ‘expresses respect for the dignity of human life,’ and hope that this decision signals the Court’s willingness to revisit and reverse Roe v. Wade.”

    liviu librescu: an american hero

    Via Right of Texas and TexasKaos, we learn of Liviu Librescu.
    Librescu, 76, was a Holocaust survivor and an engineering professor at Virginia Tech. He was not a native of America, but he became an American hero yesterday as he bravely sacrificed his life in the service of saving others.
    Monday, as the Virginia Tech gunman stalked the hallways on his way to killing 32 students and professors, he tried to enter Librescu's classroom. Librescu physically blocked the door of his classroom preventing the gunman from entering. The gunman shot & killed the professor, but even as he lay dying, Librescu blocked the door with his body, giving his students time to escape out of the classroom windows.
    Many have marked the bit of poetry surrounding Professor Librescu's courageous death: he died saving others on Yom Ha-Shoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day. A survivor of the Holocaust, who no doubt was able to live to this day because others acted to save his life, died in the defense of others on a day of remembrance for the tragic events he was forced to experience some sixty years ago.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    north texas colleges and universities respond to the virginia tech tragedy

    Yesterday and today, a local show of support for Virginia Tech from North Texas area colleges and universities came in the form of statements from presidents and chancellors, vigils and more.

    Along with emergency preparedness information, Southern Methodist University offered this statement: "All of us in higher education share the grief of the Virginia Tech family and send our heartfelt condolences to all those touched by this tragedy."

    The following is excerpted from a statement released by Dr. Wright Lassiter, Jr., the Chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District.:
    In today’s often-violent world, college campuses are a refuge for many, and a safe place to learn; however, our colleges are a microcosm of the larger world, and we must be prepared to handle the effects of that world on those who either learn or work within our institution. Would we trade the freedom that an open campus provides for learning and growth and replace it with security measures that hamper access and education? Such a closed environment is contradictory to the open exchange of ideas and the world of higher education.

    With emergency plans in place and proper training for law enforcement personnel, we hope to meet challenges from the outside world when, and if, they occur. In the meantime, we must be vigilant, observant and aware of our surroundings.
    Students at the University of Texas at Dallas can pick up black ribbons at the student government office and other locations on campus. More information about the organized efforts at UTD can be found here.

    The University of Dallas held special services today. Members of the University of North Texas community have been invited to attend a vigil held tomorrow morning, led by President Gretchen M. Bataille.

    the virginia tech massacre

    Yesterday, the students of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, faced the horror of senseless tragedy.

    Thirty-two students and teachers were killed by a lone gunman, a 23-year-old South Korean-born student of the school, who then took his own life.

    World leaders were quick to condemn the shooting and offer thoughts and prayers on behalf of the victims and families of those involved. President Bush marked yesterday as a national "day of sadness." British Prime Minister Tony Blair sent "our sympathy and our prayers" on behalf of the British people, and Buckingham Palace said "The Queen was shocked and saddened to hear of the news of the shooting in Virginia."

    Others blamed the massacre on the U.S. "gun culture."

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the shooting underscored the problems of a U.S. “gun culture,” but the gun control debate echoed loudest across Europe, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.


    The Times of London ran an editorial delving into the American psyche and the weak gun laws across the country.

    “Why, we ask, do Americans continue to tolerate gun laws and a culture that seems to condemn thousands of innocents to death every year, when presumably, tougher restrictions, such as those in force in European countries, could at least reduce the number?”

    This horrific event has touched lives across the nation and the world, including here in North Texas where many parents of Virginia Tech students left for Blacksburg. MSNBC reports that all flights to the area from DFW International Airport are sold out.

    On, college students from around the country have shown an outpouring of support for Virginia Tech. One group on the networking site called "A tribute to those who passed at the Virginia Tech Shooting" now has nearly 180,000 members, a number that has been steadily growing and will continue to do so as students join the group and invite their friends to do the same. The group also hosts nearly 2,000 photos, mainly of the Virginia Tech logo standing in solidarity with other universities' logos next to the phrase "Today, we are all Hokies." The Hokies are the school's mascot.

    You can view a streaming video of the Virginia Tech convocation here.

    Monday, April 16, 2007

    who is emil reichstadt?

    We don't know either.

    But he's apparently ready to take on Sen. John Cornyn. Reichstadt is the first Democrat to throw his hat in the ring for the 2008 Senate nomination.

    Here's a quick run-down of information gathered from Reichstadt's press release: Reichstadt is an Arkansas-born 58-year-old Democrat that once attended Southern Methodist University and knew Willis D. Tate. He is a former Army JAG officer (stationed in Germany during the '70s and '80s) who supports a strong military. He also supports bipartisanship and cleaning up the environment. He currently practices law in Dallas.

    Sounds good, right? But who is he? I guess time will tell. Everybody's got to start somewhere, but it does seem odd that this guy's first foray into the political arena is a bid for his party's nomination to the United States Senate.

    Could he really pull it off? It's going to take a lot of fundraising! He'll have to edge out bigger names that are being thrown around, if those campaigns come to fruition (i.e. Nick Lampson, Rick Noriega, Bill White). He may also face Barbara Ann Radnofsky, who ran against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2006, and may have her sights set on Cornyn's seat in 2008.

    So, Emil. It's going to take more than an announcement. Show us what you've got.

    the tax man cometh

    In case you haven't already taken care of it, your taxes are due on Tuesday, April 17.

    And if you haven't taken care of it already, maybe you can take AlterNet's advice and get a tax refund that does the world some good.

    Also, be aware of where your taxes are going. Next time a Republican complains about tax-and-spend Democrats and how taxes will be higher with Nancy Pelosi running the show, remind them that the Democrats didn't think up this war... just the way out of it.

    You might also want to tell them that they shouldn't be groaning about financing a war that they supported from the start, while re-electing a president that continually cut taxes for the wealthy during wartime. Perhaps, if they aren't going to end this quagmire they've created, the Republicans should pay even higher taxes to support it. Wouldn't that be ironic?

    Saturday, April 07, 2007

    Meet McClelland at Timberglen Library

    Residents in the area of the Timberglen Branch Library of Dallas have an opportunity to meet John McClelland, candidate for Dallas City Council District 12. Mr. McClelland will be appearing at a Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday night.

    What: Meet and Greet with John McClelland

    When: April 11 from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.

    Where: Timberglen Branch of the Dallas Public Library

    18505 Midway Road, Dallas 75287

    Don't miss this opportunity to meet John and hear him discuss his plans for reducing crime, wasteful spending and other ideas to achieve a safer city and make Dallas a better place to live.

    [Disclaimer: I volunteer for the McClelland campaign. Join me. ]