Arming Ukraine

World News – March 8, 2022

from  New York Times

‘Arming Ukraine: 17,000 Anti-Tank Weapons in 6 Days and a Clandestine Cybercorps’

The United States has walked to the edge of direct conflict with Russia in an operation that is reminiscent of the Berlin airlift of 1948-49, but far more complex.

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On a snowy tarmac at Amari Air Base in northern Estonia on Sunday morning, pallets of rifles, ammunition and other weapons were being loaded onto one of the largest cargo planes in the world, an Antonov AN-124, belonging to the Ukrainian air force. It is an artifact of the Cold War, built and purchased when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union.

Now it is being turned back against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, part of a vast airlift that American and European officials describe as a desperate race against time, to get tons of arms into the hands of Ukrainian forces while their supply routes are still open. Scenes like this, reminiscent of the Berlin airlift — the famed race by the Western allies to keep West Berlin supplied with essentials in 1948 and 1949 as the Soviet Union sought to choke it off — are playing out across Europe.

In less than a week, the United States and NATO have pushed more than 17,000 antitank weapons, including Javelin missiles, over the borders of Poland and Romania, unloading them from giant military cargo planes so they can make the trip by land to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and other major cities. So far, Russian forces have been so preoccupied in other parts of the country that they have not targeted the arms supply lines, but few think that can last.

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Former Marshall Main Street Manager discusses appeal of termination

City Government – February 27, 2022

from  Marshall News Messenger

Former Marshall Main Street Manager discusses appeal of termination

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A meeting to discuss an appeal of Marshall’s former Main Street Manager Veronique Ramirez’s termination has taken place, both Ramirez and the city confirmed.

Ramirez was terminated from her position at the end of last year amid a range of unusual circumstances and formally appealed her termination with the city. That appeal lead to a formal appeal hearing, which Ramirez and her attorney, Josh Maness, as well as interim city manager David Willard confirmed took place last month.

Willard also confirmed that the meeting did take place before the city posted a job opening for the new Main Street Coordinator position.

Ramirez said she was present at the meeting along with Maness, city attorney Scott Rectenwald and Willard.

Willard described the meeting as cordial, stating that he was grateful for Ramirez coming in and sharing with him details on what occurred with the termination.

“While it is very unfortunate me and the city parted ways, I have learned valuable lessons, and I will take with me the knowledge of municipality processes, how to manage a geographic area and organize a large-scale festival,” Ramirez said. “I am forever grateful for all the support from city co-workers to downtown business and interest holders that have supported me along the way.”

Rumors surrounding the termination began when Ramirez officially filed to run for the City of Marshall District 5 council seat in the upcoming May election.

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Marshall Community and Economic Development Director resigns

City Government – February 27, 2022

from  Marshall News Messenger

Marshall Community and Economic Development Director resigns from city

 

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The City of Marshall’s Community and Economic Development Director Fabio Angell officially resigned from his position last week.

According to interim city manager David Willard, Angell resigned from his position and is no longer working with the city, though his resignation is not effective until March.

Willard said that Angell utilized vacation time and will not return to his work with the city before the effective date of his resignation.

The decision whether or not to replace Angell with a new hire, or to promote current city employees, has not yet been made, according to Willard, who said that the city planned to announce that decision early next week.

Angell joined the city in December 2020, bringing with him over a decade’s worth of experience in urban planning, downtown revitalization and economic development.

More information on what the city of Marshall plans to do with the Director position for Community and Economic Development will be released by the News Messenger as it becomes available.

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At least one contested city council race

City Government – February 16, 2022

from  Marshall News Messenger

Marshall to see at least one contested city council race in May

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The filing period for the Marshall City Council elections in District 5, 6, 7 will officially close Friday, Feb. 18. So far four people have filed for a spot in the May election thus far.

Incumbents Amanda Abraham, of District 6, and Micah Fenton of District 7, have both filed for re-election. Thus far no other community members have filed for either district spot.

Incumbent Vernia Calhoun is unable to run for re-election, having volunteered to serve as the District 5 councilmember for eight years, the maximum amount of time.

Two community members have filed to run for the open District 5 position, Reba Godfrey and Ken Moon.

Community members interested in filing for the election can pick up an application for the general election ballot at the City Secretary’s Office at Marshall City Hall. Candidate packets can be picked up in-person at City Hall, or accessed online at http://www.marshalltexas.net.

The General Election is scheduled for Saturday, May 7, at the Marshall Convention Center, located at 2501 East End Blvd. South.

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Marshall microbrewery to kick off new MEDCO program

Today’s News – February 11, 2022

– from the Marshall News Messenger

Marshall microbrewery to kick off new MEDCO program targeting empty buildings

A new microbrewery is the first to be funding through a Marshall Economic Development Corporation program that seeks to get empty, blighted buildings occupied.

Marshall City Councilmembers unanimously approved funds for the Marshall Economic Development Corporation’s first project funded through the new Certificate of Occupancy Grant Program during Thursday’s regular city council meeting.

Director Rush Harris presented on the new program, and the planned project, during the meeting.

“We have another interesting project here, and this isn’t what you are used to seeing from me,” Harris said during the meeting.

The project is for the creation of a new microbrewery, restaurant and pub at 108 W. Houston by the Rueggenbach Brewing Company, which Harris said is owned by a Marshall native.

He explained that the owner has a plan to turn the blighted structure into a taxable business, and through this has been working with MEDCO and applying through the organization’s new Certificate of Occupancy Grant Program for funding assistance.

Due to the current state of the building, construction costs to get the building up to code and receive a certificate of occupancy are expected to be over $1.2 million.

Harris said that the structure has been determined to be blight by the Marshall EDC Board of Directors and an economic or social liability to the municipality.

This, Harris said, made the project the perfect candidate for MEDCO’s new CO grant program, which offers a reimbursement grant of up to $100,000 or 10 percent of construction costs and site improvements needed to receive an official CO from the City of Marshall.

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Amtrak News

Transportation – January 9, 2022

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Amtrak and freight railway company, Canadian Pacific, announce CP’s formalized agreement to supportexpanded passenger rail routes in the Midwest and South

Amtrak and the freight railway company, Canadian Pacific (CP), announced this past week, on January 6, that the two transportation entities had reached an agreement formalizing Canadian Pacific’s support of Amtrak’s expansion of passenger rail service in the Midwest and the South.

In the announcement, Amtrak President Stephen J. Gardner said, “Given CP’s consistent record as an Amtrak host, we support CP’s proposal to expand its network. This is exactly what Congress and the Administration are seeking: Amtrak and the freight railroads working together to benefit freight customers, Amtrak passengers, our state/regional partners and the general public.”

This announcement also conveyed that the agreement included Amtrak’s support for the proposed combination of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern (KCS) railways. Merger negotiations between KCS and CP began in March of 2021.

The announcement by Amtrak and CP was very welcomed news to passenger rail advocacy organizations throughout the nation, including the I-20 Corridor Council.

The I-20 Corridor Council is a non-profit grassroots advocacy organization and multi-state coalition, comprised of mayors, judges, elected officials and other stakeholders along the I-20 Corridor, which has been working consistently for more than 15 years to establish the East-West long-distance passenger rail connection between Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta, Georgia. This route would also connect to the East Coast, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

The announcement also stated: “Subject to CP’s application for control of KCS being approved by the STB (Surface Transportation Board), the agreement also includes CP’s commitment to support Amtrak efforts to work with the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) and others for the first service in more than 50 years on two U.S. routes.”

The two passenger rail routes referenced in the announcement in this regard, which would involve track owned by CP, are Amtrak service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and to study the potential for Amtrak service between Meridian, Miss., and Dallas, which is the proposed I-20 Corridor passenger rail route.

Former Texas State Senator and former Harrison County Judge Richard Anderson is the chairman of the I-20 Corridor Council and shared the following comments:

“The I-20 Corridor Council and all who have been working with great devotion to re-establish this important East-West passenger rail connection across the southeastern region of our nation are very pleased and grateful for the positive steps that Amtrak and Canadian Pacific have announced. We look forward to continued progress in this regard as we continue to work toward making the I-20 Corridor long distance passenger rail connection a reality for the great benefit of our Southern region and nation.”

In addition to thanking Amtrak, CP, and the members of the multi-state I-20 Corridor coalition, Anderson also thanked fellow passenger rail advocacy organizations, as well as governmental and quasi-governmental entities, who also support the proposed I-20 Corridor rail route.

These entities in support of the I-20 Corridor route include the Southern Rail Commission (SRC), Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization (TEMPO), North Central Texas Council of Governments, East Texas Council of Governments, North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA), Coordinating & Development Corporation, Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments, North Delta Regional Planning & Development District, Rail Passengers Association, Texas Rail Advocates, and others.

Judge Anderson also shared his deep appreciation for his former Texas Senate colleague, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who, since 1993, has represented the 30th Congressional District of Texas, which includes southern Dallas. Representative Johnson also serves as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Judge Anderson stated: “Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has provided outstanding leadership in transportation throughout her impressive career in Congress and in public service. We appreciate her leadership and strong support and assistance in working with us to establish the I-20 Corridor passenger rail route.”

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson added:  “I am pleased that Canadian Pacific Railway has announced that they are receptive to supporting Amtrak’s expansion of passenger rail service in the Midwest and the South. Along with the I-20 Corridor Council and the North Central Texas Council of Governments, I will continue to work steadfastly to bring to fruition an Amtrak passenger rail line that, once complete, will provide rail service from Dallas to Atlanta.”

Judge Anderson also stated that, with the passage of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the I-20 Corridor passenger rail project could provide an excellent return on investment. That’s because it would requirea comparatively small fraction of a percent of what will be needed for this project from the $16 billion which the IIJA has designated for long-distance passenger rail.

This once-in-a-generation legislation was passed by Congress then signed into law by President Biden on November 15, 2021.

Judge Anderson explained: “The feasibility and capacity studies on the I-20 Corridor route, which have already been completed by Amtrak, TXDOT, and others using the $738,000 in grant funding that the Corridor Council obtained, with the assistance of former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, determined that the I-20 Corridor route would be economically viable on existing track without an annual subsidy. It also determined that capacity could be increased, such as additional sidings, for a relatively low cost and in a relatively short period of time. Plus, this new passenger rail service should not adversely affect freight traffic.”

Judge Anderson concluded: “Again, we appreciate these positive steps announced by Amtrak and CP for the routes in the Midwest and South. Plus, in rural Amtrak-served communities, such as Marshall and Longview, we always appreciate the strong partnership with Amtrak.”

He went on to share: “We look forward to continued progress ahead not only in collaborating to establish the important I-20 Corridor route but also strengthening the Texas Eagle route to its full pre-pandemic capacity and strengthening Amtrak’s National Network.”

“In this way, we can continue to increase connectivity between our rural and urban communities throughout the United States and bring increased benefits to the American people with regard to transportation, economic development, quality of life, and many other benefits.”

Click here to learn more about the proposed I-20 Corridor

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TxDOT CREWS TO PRETREAT BRIDGES, ROADS STARTING TUESDAY – 2/1/2022

TexDOT – January 31, 2022

Monday Update from TexDOT

ATLANTA – Due to the possibility of winter weather conditions later this week, TxDOT crews plan to begin pretreating all bridges and overpasses, along with interstates and U.S. 59, starting tomorrow/Tuesday.

Crews will retreat roads as necessary on Wednesday and work through the night as warranted starting Wednesday night.

Motorists are asked to keep a safe traveling distance between their vehicles and mobile convoys spreading brine on the roadways ahead of the possible weather event. Brine is a solution consisting of salt and water designed to prevent ice and snow from sticking to surfaces.

In the event of hazardous conditions on the road due to weather, motorists are urged to stay home if possible. If travel is necessary, drivers are advised to buckle up, stay alert and slow down.

You should allow for at least three times more space than usual between you and the vehicle in front of you. 

Visit driveTexas.org or call 1-800-452-9292 for around-the-clock updates on highway conditions.

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Opinion: Stupid-stewped-stoopid Headline

 Opinion: Stupid-stewped-stoopid Headline of the Day:

By George Smith  — December 11, 2021

“The US House Jan 6 Probe is WITCH HUNT 3.0”

Right-wing social media sites, posing as “news outlets”, have no shame, no sense of decency, answering only the clarion call of the Money God and its acolyte twins Political Pabulum and Laughable BS.

Jan. 6 happened. It’s a fact that a domestic terrorist mob tried to kidnap democracy by denying constitutional due process in the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another.

Labeling it anything other than a full-fledged, orchestrated insurrection strains credibility past the breaking point.

Former President Donald Trump did not invent the term “witch hunt”. He did, however, stake claim to its use way back in 2015 and has sprinkled it liberally in every rambling speech he ever gave since.

The term has become synonymous with Trump’s tenure and even with the man himself. In our thoughts, “Donald Trump” is usually followed by “witch hunt”, despite the fact that most of his witchiest-huntable moments are all-too-true.

It makes little difference to the Trumpuppet Corps, who disbelieve their own eyes and ears to pay homage to their personal cult leader, The Prophet Trump. If he says the insurrection was a meeting of “like-minded patriots wanting to see the workings of government up close and person,” then so be it.

These fools, as Brian Willians said last night in his retirement address, have “…decided to burn it all down – with us inside”.

For shame.

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Feds find true cause of the February blackouts

Tomlinson: Feds find true cause of the February blackouts, Texas officials deflect blame

Houston Chronicle

Federal investigators have revealed how recklessly unprepared natural gas suppliers triggered 58 percent of the power outages during the February freeze, proving once again that Texas officials are misleading the public.

The 300-page report released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission verifies what University of Texas at Austin experts reported in July. Texans did not spend four days in the cold without electricity due to a paperwork snafu, as then-chair of the Texas Railroad Commission Christi Craddick claimed at a legislative hearing.

The real culprits were natural gas facilities that froze and failed to deliver fuel to power plants, triggering a deadly, four-day crisis. In July, I demanded that Craddick withdraw her slander against electricity companies and crack down on the natural gas industry she regulates.

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Opinion: My Tax Plan

 

By George Smith  — November 27, 2021

I wrote up a tax plan decades ago that went something like this (allowing for inflation):

Folks making $25,000 )

($50,000 couple) pays no federal income tax. The tax structure breaks down something like this:

Individuals:

$25,000-$50,000

10%

$50-100,000

15%

$100-$250,000

20%

$250-$500,000

25%

$500-1 million

30%

$1-20 million

32.5%

$20-100 million

35%

Over $100 million

40%

Only deductions

are for one mortgage (limited amount), college tuition (only for those making less than $100,000) and charitable contributions (maximum allowable for deductions $50,000).

Small businesses, corporations on a similar sliding scale.

Of course, the numbers are a moving target and debatable  but big corporations and the uber-rich not paying taxes is not an option.

Under this plan, based on current demographics in earning power, the government would have more than enough money to fix societal ills, balance the budget and buy every kid a pony.

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