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Houston – You Have a Problem

There are a series of manmade issues which have resulted in the massive damage we are seeing in the Houston region of Texas. The major contributor is the lack of Zoning Laws which would require developers to use certain standards in location and construction. Much like what happened in Florida during Hurricane Andrew some years back, there are no laws requiring builders not to build on floodplains, or to utilize special construction. As such a lot of the lessons from Andrew, and Katrina (I worked on parts of the Katrina recovery) were ignored.

The second problem is the US Government and FEMA. While FEMA is really strict on rules for coastal homes built along the ocean, and insurance rates are sky high (if you can get it at all) – they take a highly permissive approach to insuring homes and property a few miles inland – even when that property is located on a floodplain which repeatedly floods. I live in a coastal area, designated as a “flood zone”. I was required to utilize certain building methods. For instance the roof and siding are designed to survive a Category 5 hurricane – 140 MPH winds. The house is on “stilts” 13′ above the ground, which were driven 20′ or more into the earth. It has survived 4 Hurricanes, including a direct hit by a Cat 5 with no significant damage despite a 12′ Storm Surge and flooding. Indeed as I write this, my area is being pounded by a Tropical Storm moving up the East Coast, and we are expecting 60 MPH winds and 2-4 inches of rain.

FEMA has paid on properties which repeatedly flood – far in excess of the property values. Properties and localities with no storm mitigation systems.

The National Flood Insurance Program, established in 1968 was meant to protect and indemnify people without creating economic catastrophe. Instead of avoiding the floodplain, insurance allowed people to build within it, within management constraints recommended by FEMA. In theory, flood-hazard mitigation hoped to direct development away from flood-prone areas through the disincentives of risk insurance and regulatory complexity. It isn’t working – especially in areas where there was substantial construction before the law (NOLA), and in Texas where there is no Zoning.

In Houston’s case, catastrophic floods have been anticipated for some time. The combination of climate change, which produces more intense and unpredictable storms, and aggressive development made an event like this week’s almost inevitable. The Association of State Floodplain Managers has called for a national flood risk-management strategy, and the Houston Chronicle has called flood control the city’s “most pressing infrastructure need.” A lack of funding is often blamed, and relaxed FEMA regulations under the Trump Administration won’t help either.

The famously “un-zoned” city has allowed developers to pave over natural areas that provide resilience to floods, and build homes in the way of cataclysm. According to a 2016 analysis by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune, 166,000 acres of coastal prairies have been destroyed by development since 2001.“More people die here than anywhere else from floods,” Sam Brody, a Texas A&M University at Galveston researcher, told us last year. “More property per capita is lost here. And the problem’s getting worse.”

Not counting the Harvey’s devastation in Houston, in the past two years, 16,000 buildings have been flooded, and $1 billion in damage was caused by the so-called “Tax Day” and “Memorial Day” floods. In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison killed almost two dozen people and caused $5 billion in damage in Harris County, which includes Houston.

The next problem is Houston’s road system. Those giant highways are impervious surfaces which cause rapid rainfall runoff. In the case of the major superhighways in Houston, that runoff is along the road filling underpasses – making evacuation nearly impossible.

After Hurricane Sandy 36 Republican Senators refused to vote in favor of funding relief, including the two Senators from Texas. The political ramifications of that are floating around in the political miasma.

Maybe we need to take a different view of how to pay for this. The State, which is responsible for the laws leaving citizens defenseless – should bear a greater responsibility for its actions. Second – maybe we should put relocation on the table. Those buildings that have repeatedly flooded should be torn down, the owners should be provided FEMA Insurance money – but only to build elsewhere or to build with significant mitigation strategies. Ergo – the State, County, and City has to put a plan of mitigation on the table before a dime is spent for rebuilding.

 

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in American Greed, Disaster Prep, News

 

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Black Girl Bullied By Racists – School Does Nothing in Austin

Yeah…I know…Its Texas. The 999 great things you can say about the state are sadly mitigated by the 999 bad.

The issue here is the School Administrators are enabling racist behavior. Meaning they support it. Now, in the civilized world, these school administrators would be looking at some 1 on 1 meetings with the Superintendent…And based on those conversations…looking for new jobs.

 

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Georgetown middle school girl called an ape, slave by fellow students

A girl at Tippit Middle School in Georgetown told an African-American girl in May that she looked like an ape and also referred to her as a slave and pretended to whip her, according to a written report from the school.

A male student also made a racial remark to the black student, the report said.

The father of the 12-year-old student who was harassed, Robert Ranco, said last week the school didn’t appropriately discipline the girl or other students who were involved. None of the students were suspended, said Ranco, who is a civil rights lawyer in Round Rock.

He said the district didn’t even refer to the incidents that happened as bullying.

“It makes me feel like the school district is sweeping this under the rug,” he said. “Georgetown ISD has had a least a few suicides in the last five years resulting from bullying. … I don’t have that concern for my daughter, but I’m sure other parents didn’t think their kids were suicidal, either.”

The Georgetown school district didn’t respond to a request for comment Friday. According to the school’s report, Ranco’s daughter “was a victim of more than one incident of racially harassing conduct from classmates.”

The report said “all substantiated misbehavior by the involved students was addressed and consequences were assessed in accordance with our Georgetown I.S.D. Student Code of Conduct and with our campus restorative justice approach to discipline management.”

The document didn’t give details about the discipline except that the school “provided additional re-teaching to students who engaged in inappropriate behaviors.”

The incidents began in March when a girl followed Ranco’s daughter around a tennis court with a long piece of trash, “pretending to whip (the girl) and saying words to the effect of “You’re my slave now!” the report said. It said no one on the school’s staff saw the incident.

During another incident in March, Ranco’s daughter pointed out a male student in the cafeteria who had started a lunchtime dispute, the report said. The boy said, “It wasn’t me,” the document said. “You’re not really going to take the word of a BLACK person over the word of a WHITE person, are you?” he said, according to the report.

It said that after Ranco and his daughter met with a school counselor in March about what happened, the boy apologized to Ranco’s daughter.

The third incident happened in May, the report said, when the girl who had pretended to whip Ranco’s daughter on the tennis court walked into a classroom and asked a male student nearby why he was sitting there. It said the male student replied, “Because I don’t sit next to apes” and moved away from Ranco’s daughter.

The other girl then held up a photo of an ape on her cellphone and said to Ranco’s daughter, “This is what you look like,” the report said. It said Ranco’s daughter said, “That’s racist and mean. Stop it!”

The girl kept scrolling through photos of apes and “asking aloud which one look most like” Ranco’s daughter while other students nearby laughed, the report said.

Ranco said he asked the school’s principal to not allow the students to take part in an athletic competition the next day, but that they were allowed to do so.

He said he also asked the mother of the girl involved in two of the incidents to meet with him, but that she wouldn’t.

“It’s hard not to think kids learned this behavior from their parents,” Ranco said. “That’s part of the problem.”

 

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The Bodies Begin to Pile Up at Faux News

Got a “twofer” today, with Fox News President and his protege being cut loose…An Sean Hannity seeing his cover man and enabler leaving…Heads for the Fire Exit!

Fox co-president Bill Shine ousted in latest fallout from sexual harassment scandal

Image result for rats sinking shipAnother day, another major ouster at Fox News.

Two of Gabriel Sherman’s sources claim that Fox News co-president Bill Shine was relieved of his duties as of Monday morning.

Shortly after the New York Magazine reporter broke the news on Twitter, 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch put out a statement confirming Shine’s resignation. In addition to Shine’s resignation, Murdoch also announced that Suzanne Scott would be taking over as the president of programming, while Jay Wallace would take over as president of news.

One source tells Sherman that several women at Fox in recent days started circulating a petition that called for Shine to be fired. Fox’s on-air talent is apparently stunned by the news, and one Fox host tells Sherman that they have “no idea what’s going on.”

Sherman also notes that Shine was former Fox News boss Roger Ailes’ “righthand guy,” who was “involved in carrying out Ailes’s attacks on enemies, including instructing Fox talent to go after me.”

Earlier this year, longtime Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed a lawsuit against the network that claimed Shine “aided and abetted” sexual harassment committed by former Fox News boss Roger Ailes.

Shine’s departure now marks the third major firing of longtime Fox personnel in the wake of the network’s multiple sexual harassment scandals, along with Roger Ailes and longtime star host Bill O’Reilly.

Last week, Fox host Sean Hannity reacted with alarm to news that Shine might soon be on his way out the door, and even claimed that his firing would be “the end of Fox News as we know it.”

Hannity looking to bail on Fox as early as this week after exit of Fox News’ Shine: report

Popular Fox News nighttime host Sean Hannity may leave the conservative news network as early as after this evening’s broadcast following Monday’s resignation of Fox News co-president Bill Shine, reports the Daily Beast.

According to the Beast, sources at the network state that negotiations between Hannity’s lawyers and the network could end this week with Hannity off the air by Friday. Another source said Hannity could say his farewells this evening.

Hannity is known to be very close to Shine, once saying the network ousting him would be the “end of FNC as we know it.”

According to New York Magazine editor Gabriel Sherman, Fox sources say Hannity has a “key man clause” in his Fox contract that would allow him to leave the network at any time.

The loss of headliner Hannity would be another blow to the network that recently dismissed popular hosts Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly.

According to a Fox spokesperson rumors of Hannity’s exit are “Completely untrue.”

SS Trump

 

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Faux News

 

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France – And American Right Wing Racist Hate Speech

The horrific and despicable attacks in Paris, France will dominate the news cycle for at least a week to come. However for most Americans living in America, and especially for minority Americans, the threat of being harmed by International terrorism is about the same as getting hit by a meteorite from the sky while walking down the street. The threat of being the victim of Domestic Terrorism, either violent – or nonviolent through word, symbolic attack, or state sponsored through the Law Enforcement is an everyday reality.

A “Hate Crime” is an act of Domestic Terrorism by different euphemism. The last week’s series of death threats against black kids at U-Mo, Howard, Mich, Bowie U, and now George Mason illustrates just how common race or ethnic based Domestic Terrorism is. Not even discussing the murders at a Church in Charleston. More people in the US have been killed by Domestic terrorists since 9-11 than jihadis.

Part of the reason for that is, despite the success by ISIS in recruiting a few disaffected Americans to their murderous case – Islamic Fanaticism has no real outlet in America. There is no newspaper spouting “Kill the Infidels” daily in articles across it’s front page, no cyber madrasas teaching the religion of hate, no web sites teaching how to blow up your neighbors for the Islamic fanatic cause… And no television or cable channel(s) dedicated to the views of violent Islamic Fanatics.

But there is for the racist white wing.

“Allowable Terrorism”, brought to you by the right wing media, each and every day.

And so the hate speech begins: Let Paris be the end of the right’s violent language toward activists

In a still developing situation, the city of Paris, France, is under attack by terrorists armed with guns and explosives. Many dozens of people have been killed. A still undetermined number of people have been wounded. The terrorists took dozens of hostages in a concert hall. French police and military forces have been deployed. There is mayhem and blood in the streets of Paris.

President Obama has correctly described this day’s horrific events as “an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.”

Terrorism is politically motivated violence against a vulnerable population that is designed to intimidate, sow fear, create panic and alter public policy.

Terrorism is serious business that kills people, breaks bodies and alters lives.

It is not a game.

In the United States, the right-wing media and movement conservatives have for decades consistently used eliminationist and other violent rhetoric to describe liberals, progressives and other people with whom they disagree. As was seen in the recent attacks on a Charleston-area black church, and other violence by right-wing anti-government militias, such rhetoric does not float in the ether of the public discourse, harmless and unacknowledged. No, it does in fact lead to action.

In recent months, the right-wing media has used language such as “terrorism” and “violent,” or that the latter is “targeting police for murder” to describe the Black Lives Matter movement. Such bombastic and ugly screeds–which are wholly unfounded, with no basis in empirical reality–have also been used by right-wing opinion leaders to describe the African-American students who are fighting against racism at Yale and the University of Missouri.

There are many examples of this type of incendiary rhetoric from conservatives and their sympathizers.

A few examples.

Bill O’Reilly has declared “war” on Black Lives Matter and in doing so described them as a type of contemporary Ku Klux Klan (KKK). At its height of popularity in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the KKK was America’s largest terrorist organization. It was responsible for the murders of thousands of African-Americans. In contrast to the KKK, Black Lives Matter is a group dedicated to protecting the human rights of all people against state-sponsored violence and police thuggery and murder.

Ben Carson, in his designated role as a black conservative whose primary purpose is to disparage black Americans and to excuse-make for white racism, recently told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that the black and brown students who are advocating for their full rights and respect at Yale University are ushering in “anarchy” and “this is just raw emotion and people just being manipulated, I think in many of these cases, by outside forces who wish to create disturbances.”

Likewise, Fox News has repeatedly described the student protesters at Yale and Missouri using the same language. O’Reilly has even gone so far as to suggest that Black Lives Matter and the students who are protesting racist treatment are part of a cabal that is engaging in “fascist” behavior and “running wild” against white people. Trumping his allusions to “fascism,” on his October 22, 2015 episode of his TV show, Bill O’Reilly even made the absurd claim that Black Lives Matter is akin to the “Nazis.”

These are implicit threats and overtures to violence as racial authoritarian fascists are a clear and present danger to democracy and freedom. Thus, they must be eliminated by any means necessary.

Other critics of the student activists at Yale University and Missouri such as The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf have even made the absurd claim that so-called “safe spaces” are being “weaponized” by student activists in order to deny free speech.

Terrorism has been practiced in the United States. It was used by a Herrenvolk white settler society built upon the genocide of First Nations peoples and the enslavement of African-Americans to control, intimidate, and murder non-whites. The decades of Jim and Jane Crow white supremacy were also a form of State-sponsored terrorism as well. Political violence continues in the present where in too many of America’s communities, police and other security forces kill with impunity, force the black and brown poor into a state of “custodial citizenship”, and act in a thuggish and illegal way towards the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

Black Lives Matter stands against such violence. The student protesters at Yale and Missouri who are fighting for fairness and justice stand against violence. Liberals and progressives as a matter of principle, a belief in the Common Good, and a humane society stand against violence.

Despite what the right-wing media, Bill O’Reilly, and the opinion leaders in the White Right routinely bloviate, those groups and individuals are not terrorists.

Real terrorists have killed people in the streets of Paris. The right-wing media needs to take note of that fact and moderate their rhetoric and abusive language accordingly.

Given the American right-wing’s casual habit of using violent language to describe their foes, and to gin up fear and anxiety among the movement conservative base, the Fox News’ right-wing echo chamber and its elites should be ashamed given the death and destruction that terrorism actually reaps in practice.

 

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