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BarryLaverty last won the day on February 24

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  1. Another impact of climate change...sure Colin Robinson will have something to say about it! https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/climate-change-overharvesting-exacerbating-texas-110000505.html
  2. When I start caring what a pretentious poser like you says about anything to do with actual science and climate beyond a 1970s article from Encyclopedia Brittanica and your homespun nonsense, I'll let you know.
  3. We have no government agency with teeth to protect consumers from exorbitant raises. My car insurance also went up over 50% with no claim made. https://www.texastribune.org/2023/11/30/texas-homeowner-insurance-climate-change-costs/ Climate change, costly disasters sent Texas homeowner insurance rates skyrocketing this year Texas rates have increased 22% on average so far in 2023, twice the national rate. More billion-dollar disasters have occurred in Texas this year than any other year on record. BY ERIN DOUGLAS NOV. 30, 20235 AM CENTRAL A family watches from their door as people assess damage from a tornado that struck Round Rock on March 21, 2022. As natural disasters become more severe in part due to climate change, insurance rates are rising in Texas. Credit: Evan L'Roy/The Texas Tribune . Insurance companies across Texas have dramatically increased home insurance rates this year, state filings show, as climate change spooks executives and inflation pushes up costs to rebuild after natural disasters. Texas is prone to hurricanes and flooding, both of which are made more severe by climate change. Now insurance companies are becoming increasingly concerned about more powerful thunderstorms that are wrecking homes with flooding, hail and strong winds, analysts and experts said. And as both the impacts of climate change and inflation have worsened over the last couple of years, insurers have “less of an appetite” for taking chances in catastrophe-prone states, said Tim Zawacki, an insurance industry principal research analyst for S&P Global. The impacts are being felt on homeowner’s pocketbooks: Insurance rates in Texas have skyrocketed 22% since the beginning of this year according to an S&P Global analysis of Texas Department of Insurance data. That’s twice the average national increase of 11% over the same time period. “The insurance industry is the canary in the coal mine for the climate crisis we’re facing,” said Steven Rothstein, the managing director of the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets, a nonprofit organization that advocates for sustainable investment practices in the finance industry. Rothstein said he thinks the single biggest cause for increasing insurance costs in Texas is the impacts of climate change. “The risks on [insurance companies’] balance sheets are very significant and growing,” Rothstein said. “This is happening across the country, and across Texas. It is not just coastal Texas.” There have already been 16 disasters in Texas this year that cost $1 billion or more — a new state high for billion-dollar disasters in a single year, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration inflation-adjusted data. And that’s during a year when no hurricanes struck the Texas coast: Almost all of those weather disasters were severe storms. Over the last two years, Zawacki said, property losses from convective storms, which includes thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, and heavy rains, have dramatically increased. While climate change may be a political issue, Zawacki said, “I don’t think companies and their shareholders are willing to take the bet that it’s a transitory situation.” Climate scientists have observed that thunderstorms with heavy rains are now more frequent in the U.S. and longer lasting than they used to be, and the storm conditions that produce large hail are more common, according to the Fifth National Climate Assessment. Texas emits more greenhouse gas emissions than any other state, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It accounts for 14% of the nation’s climate-warming emissions, and produces more than twice the total emissions of California, the next largest greenhouse gas emitter. Texas is also the nation’s largest oil and gas producing state, accounting for more than 40% of the nation’s oil production. Rate filings, which companies are required to submit to state regulators for review, indicate that insurers began to dramatically increase the cost of Texas homeowners insurance in 2022. That year, rates jumped an average of 11% from 2021, according to S&P’s analysis. In the preceding four years, increases ranged between 2% and 5%. The rates are one part of how insurance companies calculate customers’ premiums. Texas Department of Insurance data shows that the average Texas homeowner’s premium was $2,124 in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available. While the state’s data doesn’t yet show the big increases in 2022 and 2023, customers in Texas told the Tribune that their homeowner premiums have jumped. For Bay City resident Eva Malina, 75, and her husband, both of whom are retired university professors, homeowner insurance premiums shot up 61% between 2020 and 2022. Her next bill is due in December. After already absorbing an almost $700 increase in their homeowner premium, Malina decided to add solar panels to her home to cut down on utility bills. She also decided to increase the deductible on the house “because the premiums were so high.” Texas premiums are already among the most expensive in the nation. But many areas of the state are likely underpriced relative to their climate risk, according to a model created by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit group of academics and experts that quantifies climate risks. First Street calculated that more than half of Texas properties are paying lower insurance rates than their risk level would indicate, or about 6.9 million of 12.4 million properties assessed by the model. Nationwide, insurance costs are increasing as inflation has pushed up construction costs and as “reinsurance” expenses have risen globally. Reinsurance — which is essentially insurance for insurance companies — has gotten dramatically more expensive in recent years as companies that issue it attempt to reduce exposure to storms made worse by climate change. In Texas, the impact is particularly clear on the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, or TWIA, the insurer of last resort for homes and businesses on the Texas Gulf Coast. TWIA paid almost $206 million this year for reinsurance, a 63% increase from 2022. TWIA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1971 to provide wind and hail insurance to coastal homeowners and businesses that could not obtain it in the private market due to their risky location on the coast. It largely operates like any other insurance company, except that it can assess a tax on other insurance companies in the state to raise money if its reserves aren’t enough to cover losses from hurricanes or other major disasters. After Hurricane Harvey blasted the Texas coast in 2017, for example, TWIA withdrew more than $740 million from its catastrophe reserve fund, which is financed by premiums, leaving the fund empty. It then had to assess $372 million on Texas insurance companies — which can then pass on that cost to their Texas customers — to pay Harvey-related claims between 2018 and 2020. TWIA’s premiums have steadily climbed in recent years, but Gulf Coast customers are almost certainly dramatically underpaying compared to their risk level. The average TWIA residential premium for customers living in high-risk coastal areas was $2,091 in September. That’s slightly less than the statewide average from two years ago — before the big rate hikes. According to an actuarial analysis, TWIA rates would have to increase a whopping 20% on residential properties and 22% on commercial properties in order for its reserves to be financially sound. But big rate increases on homeowners insurance premiums are politically difficult to swallow: In 2019, TWIA proposed a 10% rate increase, but withdrew it after the governor blocked the Texas Department of Insurance from considering the increase for at least six months. TWIA ultimately implemented a 5% rate increase in 2022, and did not propose an increase for this year. Aaron Taylor, a spokesperson for TWIA, told the Tribune that the board had implemented a strategy to gradually increase rates over time, about 5% each year, but that Hurricane Harvey had disrupted that plan. Matthew Eby, founder and chief executive officer of First Street Foundation, said earlier this year that an over-reliance on insurers of last resort is a “big flashing sign” that the insurance market is not keeping up with climate change. “We are rapidly moving to a place where the cost of insurance will make the most at-risk homes effectively uninsurable,” he said. As climate change continues to worsen, experts said, that raises thorny questions about coastal development. “You run into the question of whether we should be, as a society, encouraging development — through affordable and widely available insurance — in areas that are most likely to be negatively impacted by climate change,” said Zawacki.
  4. Give it a rest, already, nutjobs! https://www.texastribune.org/2023/12/01/2023-election-challenge-teacher-pay-tax-cuts/ Tax cuts, teacher pension increases at stake after misinformation-led challenge to 2023 election Tax cuts were a major legislative priority for Republican leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor cannot certify the election results until the challenges are resolved. BY NATALIA CONTRERAS, VOTEBEAT AND THE TEXAS TRIBUNE DEC. 1, 2023UPDATED: 2:57 PM CENTRAL A series of challenges to the 2023 election could prevent tax cuts and a pension increase for teachers from going into effect. Credit: Angela Piazza for The Texas Tribune Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. Votebeat is a nonprofit news organization reporting on voting access and election administration across the U.S. Help us answer your questions about voting where you live by filling out our survey. Lawsuits based on false claims about voting equipment could delay millions of dollars in cost of living increases for retired teachers expected to arrive in January. The lawsuits also threaten to hold up state property tax cuts for homeowners — arguably Republicans’ signature policy achievement this year. Voters widely approved both policies this fall. Now Texas lawmakers are scrambling to address the challenges in hopes of preventing further delays. The election contests challenging the results of the November constitutional amendment election were filed in Travis County district courts days after the November election by right-wing activists. They are based on false claims that Texas’ voting equipment is not certified and that voting machines are connected to the internet. Abbott has not certified the results of the election and won’t be able to until the lawsuits are resolved in the courts — which experts say could take weeks or months. Voter advocates say the election contests are yet another attempt to undermine trust in elections. This time, though, it could have immediate negative implications for millions of Texans. “I think this is a perfect example of the real impact in peoples’ lives when we delay the certification of our vote because of misinformation,” said Katya Ehresman, voting rights program manager at Common Cause Texas. At least six lawsuits — filed by residents from Bexar, Llano, Denton, Rains, Brazoria, Liberty, and Atascosa counties who have ties to local promoters of election conspiracies — are challenging the 14 constitutional amendment propositions that were on the ballot in November. By law, challenges to constitutional amendment elections can’t go to trial earlier than a month after it's been filed — unless requested by the contestant — and not later than six months after it was filed. But on Friday, in the middle of Texas' fourth special legislative session this year, a state senator introduced a bill that would eliminate that requirement and to compress the timeline under which such challenges are heard. The bill was then hastily passed through a committee and sent to the Senate floor, where it passed 23-1. It will now go to the House, which was also in session Friday. Its author, Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, said that if it isn’t passed that property tax cuts and extra money for retired teachers would be in jeopardy. “It’s a big deal,” he said. In order for the bill to become law, Gov. Greg Abbott would have to add the issue to the special session's agenda. On Friday, an Abbott aide said he'd consider doing so if both chambers can agree to a bill. Issues at stake for voters Cost of living increases for about 400,000 retired teachers and public school employees could be delayed for months, unless the lawsuit moves quickly through the courts. Advocates say that, for many, this would be the first raise to their pensions they will see in nearly 20 years. Lawmakers earlier this year passed Senate Bill 10, which provides some retired Texas teachers with cost-of-living raises of between 2% and 6% to their monthly pension checks. The Legislature then put the proposition on the ballot, seeking voters’ approval to use $3.3 billion from the general revenue fund. Eli Melendrez, a staff researcher with the Texas American Federation of Teachers, said the average monthly pension of a retired educator is about $2,174. The pension increase would add about $80 more to their monthly checks, he said. “That sounds really small, but if you look at it in aggregate, we're talking about $30 million per month in these retired educators’ pockets,” Melendrez said. “It's definitely significant.” Retired teachers’ first pension check of 2024 will be delivered at the end of January. “Time is very much of the essence when it comes to these issues,” he said and added that it isn’t clear yet whether retired teachers would receive back pay to cover any delays. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas in a statement said it’s still working to understand the impacts the lawsuits would have on the timing of distribution of the pension increases. Officials said their website will be updated as more information becomes available. The lawsuit also imperils, at least temporarily, what is arguably Texas Republicans’ top priority this year — cutting property taxes for homeowners and businesses. Republicans including Abbott made big promises this year to use a record $33 billion surplus to deliver tax cuts to Texas property owners — who, largely because the state doesn’t have an income tax, pay some of the highest property tax bills in the nation, according to the conservative Tax Foundation. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, the Republican who championed the policy in the Legislature, could not be immediately reached for comment. After months of infighting among the state’s top GOP leaders over how exactly to make those cuts, lawmakers greenlit an $18 billion tax-cut package aimed at driving down school taxes, the biggest chunk of property taxes. Voters signed off on the measure, dubbed Proposition 4, at the November ballot box by a wide margin — 83% of voters in favor, 17% against. The package includes $12.7 billion in new tax cuts. Of that, $7.1 billion is slated to go to school districts so they can replace local tax revenues with state dollars. The proposition also gives a significant boost to Texas’ main tax break for homeowners: the state’s homestead exemption on school district taxes, the slice of a home’s value that can’t be taxed to pay for public schools.. Those cuts will tally up to more than $2,500 in tax savings over the next two years for the typical Texas homeowner, according to figures provided by Bettencourt’s office, which nets out to a little more than $100 a month. Seniors who are homeowners are expected to get bigger savings. The lawsuit also jeopardizes a slate of other tax changes in Proposition 4, including a new cap on how much certain businesses’ property values, which helps determine an owner’s tax bill, can grow each year. The proposition also expands the pool of businesses that don’t have to pay the state’s franchise tax — and allows voters in counties with at least 75,000 residents to choose three new members of their local appraisal districts’ board of directors, which are appointed positions. Who is suing and what are the claims? At least two of the six nearly identical lawsuits were filed by Jarrett Woodward of Bexar County. Woodward has in the past year spoken in front of county commissioners in Kerr, Uvalde, Medina, and Bexar counties trying to persuade them to ditch electronic voting equipment and to hand count ballots instead. In the lawsuits, Woodward argues the voting equipment used in the Nov. 7 election was not properly certified and that “the ballot marking devices similar to those that Contestants were forced to use for voting in 2023 contain multiple severe security flaws including the opportunity to install malicious software locally or remotely.” Voting machines used in Texas by vendors ES&S and Hart InterCivic have been certified by the Texas Secretary of State and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Neither the machines used to cast ballots nor the machines used to count ballots have the capability to connect to the internet. The process to certify election equipment in Texas is robust: After vendors submit an application for certification, state officials physically examine the equipment and test its accuracy. Last year, Woodward and others filed similar lawsuits against multiple county officials across the state for using voting equipment they say is not certified; at least seven were dismissed and the others have yet to succeed. Similar unfounded claims have been made in other states across the country. Woodward did not respond to Votebeat’s request for comment. Woodward was part of a long lineup of speakers — including Mark Cook and Tina Peters of Colorado — who spread election conspiracy theories at an event in Kerrville in August and have ties to MyPillow CEO and well-known election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, an ally of former president Donald Trump. Cook is connected to clerks who have tried to illegally obtain access to voting systems. Peters is a former Mesa County Colorado clerk who was indicted last year on felony and misdemeanor charges related to election equipment tampering after she allowed unauthorized people break into her county’s election system in hopes of finding evidence of fraud.
  5. This part, from Trump or one of his lackeys? “Ron DeSanctimonious is acting more like a thirsty, third-rate OnlyFans wannabe model than an actual presidential candidate. Instead of actually campaigning and trying to turn around his dismal poll numbers, DeSanctus is now so desperate for attention that he’s debating a Grade A loser like Gavin Newsom. At the debate, Ron will flail his arms and bobble his head wildly, looking more like a San Francisco crackhead than the governor of Florida. This isn’t a prediction. It’s a spoiler. “Hopefully for Ron, it’s a seated debate so he won’t have to mash his foot into his high-heels to look taller. But if not, he’ll definitely be on a 12 inch step stool so he can peek right above the podium.”
  6. And, then this was also written. https://www.yahoo.com/news/newsom-humiliates-desantis-fox-news-145726446.html Newsom humiliates DeSantis on Fox News Heather Digby Parton Fri, December 1, 2023 at 8:57 AM CST·7 min read 1.1k When Florida Gov. Ron Desantis agreed to debate California Gov. Gavin Newsom, it's unlikely he knew his presidential campaign would be flailing to the extent it currently is. But he still should have thought twice. Whatever he thought his political skills might be, he is terrible on the debate stage. He's managed to barely hold his own in the sad Trumpless GOP primary debates that have been dominated by his rival, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, but he did himself no favors on Thursday night when he finally met with Newsom on Sean Hannity's Fox News show. Any Trump fans, which would include virtually all Fox News viewers, were primed to watch Newsom be humiliated. Trump spokesman Steve Cheung, either taking dictation from the boss or channeling him perfectly, put out this humdinger of a statement in advance of the event: Ouch. That's harsh, even by Trump standards. Trump didn't personally weigh in — but he did post this on his social media site Trump Social: Hannity was much kinder to DeSantis than that but it didn't help much and DeSantis certainly didn't help himself. The questions were all loaded with statistics in favor of DeSantis designed to put Newsom on the defensive. I don't think there was even one data point he presented that put Florida in a more negative light. So it was up to Newsom to provide context and correct the record which he did quite effectively. For instance, DeSantis was programmed to insist that Californians are moving to Florida "in droves" which he did approximately a dozen times, and maybe those Fox viewers were convinced. But it's just not true. (As Newsom pointed out repeatedly, per capita more Floridians have actually moved to California than the other way around.) Hannity threw one question after another right over the plate to DeSantis, but he was the one who ended up on the defensive as Newsom not only stood up for his state but made a great case for Joe Biden on Fox News (which was the whole point of the exercise). They sparred about their COVID response, with DeSantis making repeated fatuous comments about Newsom going to the French Laundry restaurant during the lockdowns. But Newsom got the better of the argument by pointing out that DeSantis wants to have it both ways by portraying himself as a defiant contrarian on the mitigation measures when in fact he called for all of them early and then decided that it would be in his best interest to prematurely repeal all of them resulting in many unnecessary deaths. DeSantis claimed it wasn't true but it certainly is. According to an LA Times analysis of the Johns Hopkins University data on COVID deaths: It is true that Florida has a large senior population but that should have argued for DeSantis to be more cautious not less. His legacy on COVID is shameful and the fact that he actually brags about it is mind-boggling. They also argued about crime statistics with DeSantis accusing Newsom of presiding over a crime wave while Newsom pointed out that it had actually declined precipitously over the past couple of decades. One set of statistics (which Hannity showed, naturally) has California having more violent crimes than Florida but Newsom responded, correctly, that Florida actually has a higher murder rate than California. I wondered when (or if) Hannity would discuss abortion, seeing as it is a serious problem for DeSantis due to the draconian laws he signed, first for a 15 week ban and then a 6 week ban a few months later. Hannity tried to nail Newsom with the right's tiresome question about whether he would outlaw all abortions after a certain period of time, but he didn't get very far. Newsom said that these instances are exceedingly rare and are almost always because of a tragic fetal anomaly, which is correct. (If I were a politician, I would always use the example of a real person in that situation and then ask whether or not politicians and judges are competent to make such complicated medical decisions. Most people would agree that they are not.) DeSantis pretty much just stood there like a potted plant obviously wanting to get past the subject as soon as possible. Just yesterday, a poll was released showing that 62% of Floridians want to vote the right to abortion up to 24 weeks into the state constitution and that includes 52% of Republicans. He made a huge mistake in judgement on that one. One of the most jarring aspects of the debate was that throughout, DeSantis kept bizarrely talking about feces. That's right, feces. This is actually an old right wing obsession going back to the civil rights marches, the Vietnam war protests and most recently Occupy Wall Street. There are always tales of rampant public defecation and they can't stop talking about it. DeSantis seems to have a particular fetish about this feces problem as illustrated in this bizarre moment: Politifact, which fact checked much of the debate if you're interested, explains what that's all about if you really want to know. Apparently, DeSantis' hapless campaign thought it would be a good idea to showcase him on the friendly network because it would give him a chance to talk about how great Florida is. The problem is that there isn't a Republican primary voter on the planet who hasn't heard him drone on endlessly about what a fantastic job he's done in Florida and frankly, they're sick of it. But that's what they got last night along with a laundry list of culture war talking points that merely show DeSantis watches the same shows they do. It's possible that a few people came away thinking they should give him a second look but I doubt it was more than a handful. He's just so ... odd: Newsom probably made a few new fans among the Democrats who tuned in to watch the cage match. He was loose and confident and why wouldn't he be? He's not running for anything, a point he made clear when he archly declared that the one thing everyone can agree on is that neither of the two of them were going to be president in 2025. The debate was best summed up by former Republican strategist Stuart Stevens who quipped:
  7. Still on my list! Actually got started on Shameless, and that is 11 seasons to watch!
  8. Your Not Bee posts are now going into my WND, Breitbart, Beanieboy category of not going to bother with clickbait. Are the ones who write for it also supposed to be funny? They just sound juvenile and snarky.
  9. Hilarious when the 'Bee' tries to comically spew the partisan rhetoric it is well known for, so I went to The Hill, which was much more realistic about the outcome of the debate. https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/4336876-ron-desantis-gavin-newsom-fox-news-debate-sean-hannity-california-florida/
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