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Houston-area man guilty in shipping container scam

A Houston-area man faces up to 20 years in prison in a $5.5 million shipping containers scam.

Prosecutors in Houston say 49-year-old Steven Patrick Jones of Kingwood and Panama City, Panama, pleaded guilty Thursday to mail fraud. His partner, 71-year-old John Patrick Acord of Magnolia, faces similar charges and remains at large.

Investigators say the pair formed a company called Intermodal Wealth. Intermodal offered to sell the containers to investors, then lease the items for the investors. Jones promised to an annual return of 16 percent.

Prosecutors say the company had few containers, did not lease any of them and the partners instead spent most of the invested money.

Jones remains in custody pending sentencing in September.

http://www.khou.com/news/national/257647191.html

For State Politicians, BLM Dispute is Fertile Turf

by Jim Malewitz

State Rep. James Frank has been hearing from constituents since February about goings-on along the Red River: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, citing a series of court rulings dating to the 1920s, had decided that a 116-mile stretch of land belonged to the federal government.

The roughly 90,000 acres included property long ago deeded to residents who had raised crops and cattle and paid taxes on it.

Questions had been swirling in North Texas since December, when BLM representatives came to discuss updates to its resource management plans in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas — how the land would be used for the next 15 to 20 years.

So Frank, R-Wichita Falls, and other area lawmakers quietly went to work, first trying to understand two centuries of treaties, litigation and changing geography rooted in the bureau’s claim. They teamed with U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, who had requested information from the agency and was mulling legislative action.

Then came the national headlines.

Amid the bureau’s headline-making standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy over grazing fees on clearly established public land, which has little in common with the Red River debate, Texas politicos seized on the border angst of state residents. In statements and national television appearances, Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst were among those who spoke of an imminent takeover of Texas land.

“They sure have jumped ahead on talking points,” Frank said, chuckling. “All of a sudden I’m going, ‘Who are all these people sending out statements?’”

But Frank said he was not put off by the attention, sensing an opportunity to raise awareness.

Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, talked of a “potential seizure of land” and sent a letter last week to the bureau seeking more information on its claims. Two days later, after an appearance on Fox News in which he mentioned possible litigation, Abbott’s campaign sent an email with this message for the bureau: “Come and take it.”  Continue reading here.

http://www.texastribune.org/2014/05/02/red-river-dispute-politics-preceded-understanding/

Walmart gives $125K to El Pasoans Fighting Hunger

By Aaron Bracamontes

The Walmart Foundation cut a $125,000 check to El Pasoans Fighting Hunger on Tuesday, so the non-profit can buy a new refrigerated truck.

The hunger relief organization had been trying to find ways to acquire a fifth truck for more than a year and earlier this month they publicly asked the El Paso community to pitch in any way.

“We thought it would take a lot more time to raise the money,” said Victor Nevarez, the organization’s board president. “We thought it was going to take a large amount of small donations.”

Instead, the Walmart Foundation informed El Pasoans Fighting Hunger that it would be eligible for a donation. Soon after the organization applied, they received word they would be getting enough money for a truck.

“It was just a godsend,” said El Pasoans Fighting Hunger executive director Janie Sinclair. “It will help us feed so many people.”

The refrigerated trucks are used to collect and distribute food. The non-profit currently has four trucks that helps them collect about 8 million pounds of food a year.

Nevarez estimated a brand new refrigerated truck would cost between $120,000 to $130,000. Now that the money has been collected they will put together a bid for a truck.

“It’s very gratifying to know that people are starting to notice that there is a need to feed those who are in need,” Nevarez said.

Daniel Morales, a representative from the Walmart Foundation, said the company has dedicated $2 billion to fight hunger in local communities.

“This is a subject that is very important to Walmart,” Morales said. “We are a part of the community and so we want to work with community organizations to give back.”

http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_25663044/walmart-gives-125k-el-pasoans-fighting-hunger-new?source=nav

Current Argus: Loving County sheriff’s official says El Paso man killed in oilfield explosion

By Jessica Onsurez, Jon Smith

Two men are dead after a pressure explosion at a drill site in Orla, Texas early Wednesday morning. The Loving County Sheriff’s Department identified Amos Ortega, 46 of Artesia, as one of the victims. The second victim has not yet been identified but law enforcement officials say he is from El Paso.

Nine others were injured in the accident but suffered only minor cuts, lacerations and bruising from shrapnel pushed into the air by the explosion. They were examined at the scene by medical personnel but refused transportation to a local hospital. Sheriff Deputy Chris Busse said there were up to 15 people on site at the time of the explosion.

http://www.elpasotimes.com/latestnews/ci_25669534/current-argus-loving-county-sheriffs-official-says-el

Report: ‘Bad’ substance spilled by Pemex headed toward Rio Grande

By Emma Perez-Trevino

A “bad” substance is believed to have been released from a Pemex facility in Mexico that already could have impacted Falcon Reservoir, and federal and state agencies are advising water rights holders along the Rio Grande, the Valley Morning Star learned.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has issued a precautionary notification of the material release after the International Boundary and Water Commission noted that its counterpart in Mexico had alerted it to this. TCEQ also learned that there had been a fish kill around April 8 in Mexico about 90 miles upstream of the border.

“They do not know what the material is or the quantity released, but it went into the Rio Salado and is headed toward the Rio Grande near Zapata,” the precautionary notification states.

TCEQ noted that, “while we are not directing any (water) diverters to cease diverting at this time, we would encourage you to consider alternate sources of water if you have them available.”

http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_77d7a388-d0ab-11e3-84c3-0017a43b2370.html

Candidates Talk Urban-Rural Divide in Runoff

by Cathaleen Qiao Chen

The race to replace U.S Rep. Steve Stockman in Congressional District 36 is a battle of geographical allegiance between supporters of the two Republican candidates headed to the May 27 runoff: Brian Babin of southeast Texas and Ben Streusand of suburban Houston.

Stockman, R-Friendswood, gave up a prospective third term in the U.S. House to launch a failed bid for Senate against Republican incumbent John CornynTwelve Republican candidates vied to replace Stockman in the March primary. The top two vote-getters were Babin, a dentist and former mayor of Woodville, and Streusand, a former mortgage banker favored by some Tea Party groups. Babin led with 33 percent of the vote followed by Streusand, who received 23 percent.

Stockman spokesman Donny Ferguson said the incumbent congressman has not endorsed either candidate, one of whom will face off against Democrat Michael Cole in the November general election.

CD-36 stretches from southeast Houston to the rural East Texas counties of Newton, Jasper, Tyler, Polk, Orange and Hardin.

“This district really has two separate faces,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston. “In many ways, they’re equally conservative. This is just more of a Houston vs. East Texas fight.”  Continue reading here.

http://www.texastribune.org/2014/04/30/conservatives-babin-streusand-vie-stockmans-seat/

Will Cold Shoulder From National Group Affect Davis’ Chances?

by Ben Philpott

This week the head of the Democratic Governors Association said the Texas governor’s race isn’t in the top tier of races his group will be financially backing in 2014. What will that lack of support mean for Wendy Davis‘ chances here?

Listen to audio

http://www.texastribune.org/2014/05/01/will-cold-shoulder-national-group-affect-davis-cha/

Texas Schools Apply Common Core Through YouTube

Bastrop ISD is piloting a savvy 21st Century social media learning program, YouTube EDU, to enhance the educational experience.

The initiative will run through the end of this school year, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

On April 15, the district announced that students in grades K-12 could access the education-specific version of the popular media streaming site YouTube. The Statesman also noted that students grade 9-12 would also “be able to view Twitter and Facebook posts from faculty members through the pilot program, providing teachers with an additional channel of communication with their students.”

Donald Williams, Bastrop ISD Executive Director of Community Services & Communications told Breitbart Texas that the intention is to make the program permanent. He said, “Overall, we have received lots of positive feedback. Teachers are excited to have an additional tool to use in the classroom.”

The role of technology in the classroom is the marvel of modern times in how it informs, entertains and brings a lesson to life. However, it also raises concerns over internet safety and privacy issues, especially when YouTube EDU notes on their website that once activated by a school, students “at any grade level” are able to access the content.

Breitbart Texas spoke with YouTube spokeswoman Zayna Aston to learn more about social media safeguards and also, about the content. Aston defined the program as “a platform of education channel content providers in the US and worldwide” that includes 130 colleges and universities. She stated that YouTube EDU services an international, and not only an American, audience. Their global partners also drive their content offerings.

On the website, YouTube EDU highlights that they are teacher-friendly, aligning with common educational standards; however, since Texas rejected the Common Core standards Breitbart Texas asked Aston about Common Core content integration into YouTube EDU.

She told Breitbart Texas, “we’ve also worked with a group of teachers to put together playlists of partner videos that align with the Common Core standards. So far we’ve curated over 300 playlists that are broken out by subject–Math, Science, Social Studies and English Language Arts–and by age. All of these playlists are viewable through YouTube for Schools and can be accessed at YouTube.com/teachers.”

Continue reading here (+ video).

http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-Texas/2014/05/01/Texas-Schools-Apply-Common-Core-Through-YouTube

Lone Star Lunacy

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/376868/lone-star-lunacy-kevin-d-williamson