Saturday, March 26, 2011

Former Hospital Administrator Takes Plea Deal

Winkler Post photo
Story from the Houston Chronicle:
(See also the Newswest9 Video and the Winkler Post story)
Ex-hospital head takes plea in retaliation case
By BETSY BLANEY Associated Press © 2011 The Associated Press
March 21, 2011, 8:16PM
KERMIT, Texas — A former West Texas hospital administrator accused of retaliating against two whistle-blowing nurses accepted a plea deal Monday and could testify in trials for a doctor, sheriff and prosecutor facing similar charges.

Stan Wiley ran Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Kermit when the nurses were unsuccessfully prosecuted after they complained anonymously to the Texas Medical Board in 2009 that Dr. Rolando Arafiles Jr. was unethical and risking patients' health.

Both nurses were fired from the hospital in June 2009 and a month later indicted with misuse of information after they complained anonymously to state regulators about Arafiles' medical procedures.

Wiley, who fired the nurses, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of abuse of official capacity. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $2,000. As part of the plea deal, Wiley agreed to cooperate with the prosecution of the three remaining defendants.

Arafiles, Winkler County Sheriff Robert Roberts and County Attorney Scott Tidwell face retaliation and other charges for pursuing cases against Vickilyn Galle and Anne Mitchell.

The case against Galle was dropped, and Mitchell was exonerated of a felony charge of misuse of official information at a February 2010 trial. Both women were in the courtroom Monday.

During the hearing, Visiting Judge Robert H. Moore s also heard from the other defendants' attorneys and scheduled Roberts' trial to start June 6. Roberts and Arafiles declined to comment after the hearing.

Tidwell's attorney, David Zavoda, told Moore his client should be protected by prosecutorial immunity because he was only doing his job.

Prosecutor David Glicker called that argument "shocking."

"You're not acting like a prosecutor if you do something unlawful," Glicker told the judge.

Moore rejected Zavoda's argument.

Investigators contend that Arafiles approached his close friend Roberts, who was also a patient, after the Texas Medical Board contacted the doctor about the complaint. Arafiles asked his friend to help him find out who filed the complaint and Roberts used his authority to get a copy, investigators said.

Arafiles and other officials were then able to determine the identities of those who filed the complaint — names that would have been protected from disclosure if law enforcement officials had not misused their position to obtain confidential information, the Texas attorney general's office said in a news release Monday.

Among the nurses' complaints in their unsigned April 2009 letter to the medical board were that Arafiles improperly encouraged patients to buy herbal medicines from him and had wanted to use hospital supplies to perform a procedure at a patient's home.

Arafiles, licensed in Texas since 1998, has said the nurses' letter to the board was intended to harm him personally.

The women sued the county and accepted a $750,000 settlement after they were cleared.

Arafiles faces two counts of misuse of official information and retaliation. Roberts and Tidwell each face two counts of misuse of official information, two counts of retaliation and two counts of official oppression.

The medical board technically suspended Arafiles in February but said he could continue to practice medicine while on probation for four years, if he completed additional training. The board also said Arafiles must be monitored by another physician and submit patient medical and billing records for review. The monitor will report his or her findings back to the board.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

(Thanks to Rawhide for the text. I found the pictures everyplace.)
1. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You believe Joe Biden is a Muslim.

2. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You have ever referred to yourself as a ‘smart-a** cracker'.

3. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You get two pizzas, both half cheese and half pepperoni.

4. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You whine about socialism for an hour and then break into tears.

5. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You write “Ready, Aim, Fire!” on the palms of your hands.

6. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You think there really is a government program called "Obamacare".

7. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You have ever added a small mustache to a picture of Obama.

8. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You like to crumple up dollar bills and throw them at disabled people.

9. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You've ever made an information request to the Hawaii Department of Vital Records and you're not a resident of Hawaii.

10. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You need to bring a lawn chair to a 1 hour political rally.

11. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You think the 2008 Presidential election was a choice between two communist-fascists.

12. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You think armed militias are a sensible idea.

13. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You think Obama was born in Kenya, that a death panel will kill your grandmother, and argue there is no evidence of global warming.
After this winter, you still believe in global warming?
Death panel.

14. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You think George Soros wrote 1984.

15. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You argue that 'separation of Church and State' came out of Adolf Hitler’s mouth.

16. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You think the greatest threat to America is liberal media bias.

17. You Might Be a Tea Partier If ...

You have a photo shopped picture of Obama, have carried a toilet plunger to a political rally or have ever decried a public option.

Tea partier's brain.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our First Tea Party

I got a funny e-mail about tea parties, and I may still use it, but first I thought I would show you actual photos of the Odessa Tea Party held on April 17 of 2010, to give you an idea of what a tea party is like, at least in my neighborhood.  Your experiences and your mileage may vary.

Robert claims this park for the United States of America.

  It was cold and misty on this day.  Glad the planet is warming up, or it might have been much colder.

Sleepless in Midland's blog has another review of the event, plus he took better pictures than I did.

I did not see anyone carrying a plunger.  However, we were in Roswell the previous month and just barely missed seeing Joe the Plumber.

I didn't see anyone throwing crumpled dollar bills at any disabled person, or any other act of cruelty.

I didn't see or hear any racist remarks.  I didn't see any police presence at all.

Liz was interviewed by a reporter for the Midland paper.

Here's the man we mostly came to see.  His name is Mark Williamson, founder of Federal Intercessors, and he also happens to be our preacher's son.

Above: Here is Mr. Williamson on February 17 of this year, leading the opening prayer before the U. S. House of Representatives. (You don't have to watch all 16 hours and 10 minutes of the video.)

After about an hour, we were ready to leave.  We needed to go shopping and find adequate facilities.  Meanwhile, Robert and two boys were staging a lightsaber fight on the hill.

Robert was decidedly not ready to leave.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Future is Back!

Robert sees a DeLorean for the first time in Odessa.


From the Pakistan Daily Mail, which all Kermit residents read
by Andrew Thompson

Twenty-six-year-old Cameron Wynne is a champion wakeboarder and fan of the electro-funk band Chromeo. His long hair, tanned skin and girlfriend-who-works-in-fashion go a long way toward completing his cool-kid persona. But his beyond-exotic ride provides the finishing touch. “When I was at the Roosevelt in L.A., they moved a Lamborghini Murcielago so they could park it in front of everything—a Murcielago!” Wynne says. “And they didn’t charge me anything. All week.” “It” is Wynne’s 1981 DeLorean DMC-12. Yes, that gull-wing stunner best known as the time machine in the 1985 Robert Zemeckis film, Back to the Future. (Wynne’s edition is wrapped in black, with matte shard effects that were a 2009 limited-edition design for The Hundreds clothing line.)

Against all expectations—and possibly common sense—the DeLorean is back in limited production, and with it has come a boomlet in DeLoreaniana. Last November Nike’s 6.0 Dunk SE DeLorean sneakers sold out online in minutes. A DMC-12 holds a prime spot in Xbox’s bestselling Gran Turismo videogame. Next month Mattel’s Hot Wheels DeLorean edition will begin its fifth product run in the past year. Not to mention the car’s popularity in the music and film communities. Pop singer Ke$ha drove one to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards; owns one; Kanye West and Die Antwoord are vocal fans. The British band Neon Neon devoted its entire 2008 album, Stainless Style, to DeLorean. At least four movie projects—some backed by DeLorean’s children—are making the rounds in Hollywood.

The DeLorean DMC-12 features gullwing doors, unpainted stainless steel body panels, and a rear engine.When John DeLorean launched the original as a challenge to the Corvette in 1981, its 130hp, 2.8-liter V6 went from 0mph to 60mph in 10.5 seconds. It cost $25,000. Since then the car has garnered both favor and contempt. It became notorious in 1982 when DeLorean, desperate to generate cash (a $27 million stock issue had fallen through), became the target of an FBI investigation into drug trafficking. When the Feds caught him on camera in a Los Angeles Sheraton transferring a suitcase filled with 220 pounds of cocaine and famously saying, “It’s as good as gold and just in the nick of time,” their case seemed made.

Now, 30 years later, the brand is making a comeback based on its own merits. “People like the car for the car,” emphasizes Stephen Wynne, the 54-year-old CEO of DeLorean Motor Co. Along with son Cameron and 16 employees, Wynne is building and restoring DeLoreans at a 40,000-square-foot facility in Humble, Tex., 30 miles north of Houston. A former mechanic with long caramel bangs, a Carolina Herrera shirt and Prada loafers, Wynne grew up in Liverpool obsessed with cars—his parents’ trick to calm him as a toddler was to put him behind the wheel of the family sedan. Wynne moved to California in 1980 and developed an expertise in repairing DeLoreans, since the intricacies of their French-made Peugeot-Renault-Volvo (PRV) engine and Lotus-designed chassis were second nature for someone used to European vehicles. It didn’t hurt that he could “talk the same language” when tracking car parts across Europe—back in the day DeLorean cars were assembled in Northern Ireland, thanks to millions of dollars in development incentives from the British government.

While in California Wynne heard that a company called Kapac had DeLorean engineering data and thousands of spare parts lying fallow. In 1997 he bought out Kapac’s stocks for under a million dollars and by 1999 was the proud owner of all DeLorean branding rights and subsidiaries. Today’s DeLorean Motor Co. makes about six “new” cars a year—they have stainless-steel reproduction chassis and a combination of new-old stock (NOS), original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and reproduction parts. DMC also sells about 60 certified used DeLoreans annually. (The bulk of the business comes from service, repairs and restoration—and, increasingly, from licensing agreements.) The $57,500 new builds have a few modern options—like a CD player, GPS and iPod/Bluetooth—but their look is identical to those built in the 1980s.

They’re fun to drive, too. A DMC-12 is not going to win many drag races (though it will be challenged to them often), but it is nimble enough and feels smooth cruising at 70mph down the interstate. Speed aside, the steering is slightly stiff (power steering is not available); the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals are narrow and sit closely to one another, which requires some adjustment. Stateside quality control and retooling on the doors worked out the kinks in subsequent generations, and the new DeLoreans are built on a lighter chassis and can be wrapped in any color or pattern to protect the steel panels.

Wynne says he has enough original parts to build 500 more new-old cars, including a limited-edition Final Run of 50 to commence production this June. So far, so good: Wynne demurs when asked about profit totals but says DMC revenue has grown to six times the totals of the early 1990s, and last year had an 8% increase in net profits over 2009.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Winkler County DA to Retire

From The Odessa American:
KERMIT District Attorney Mike Fostel of Winkler County will be stepping down effective April 30, Fostel said Wednesday.

The 65-year-old, who has held the position for 29 years, recently has faced external challenges to his duties as a prosecutor in the 109th Judicial District.

After being sidelined by illness and surgery in recent years, a lawsuit brought by Kermit resident and Winkler County Hospital Board member John Walton claimed Fostel hadn’t done his full duty since March 2009. Winkler County Attorney Scott Tidwell filed the motion but made a motion to dismiss it Feb. 1.

At the time, Fostel said he had no immediate plans to retire, and Fostel said Wednesday the suit was the work of a few people, so it didn’t affect him.

Fostel said the personal toll from the Feb. 6 death of his 32-year-old daughter Paige Fostel was the motivating factor in his retirement as a prosecutor, but not in general.

“I’m not quitting law, I’m quitting being district attorney,” Fostel said.

Fostel said he planned now to go across the street to One Court Place and hopefully restart the long-time private practice he gave up about two years ago.

Looking back on his career, which included three years of pure private practice, seven-and-a-half as county attorney in addition to his time as DA, Fostel recalled that just 42 days after stepping in, he had to prosecute the case of Odessa-based serial killer Michael Eugene Sharp, executed in November 2007 for the 1982 stabbing deaths of Brenda Kay Broadway, 32. He was also convicted in the murder of Broadway’s 8-year-old daughter Christie Elms.

Fostel said it was his first and only death penalty case, and he wouldn’t let Sharp bargain for a lesser sentence.

Fostel said he wasn’t sure who Gov. Rick Perry would choose to replace him.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Housing is "Up"!

(Credit: © National Geographic Channel/Stewart Volland)
From C-net's Crave Blog:

Ever wished real life could be more like a Pixar movie? It was for a little while on Saturday, as a team of awesomizers managed to successfully lift a house into the air, "Up" style, using a cluster of brightly colored balloons.

The adorable 2,000-pound, 16x16-foot yellow house took to the skies with the aid of 300 weather balloons that grow to 8 feet tall when inflated. From top to bottom, the entire aircraft measured 10 stories high and reached an altitude of 10,000 feet. It flew for about an hour at dawn from a private airfield east of Los Angeles. Oh, and there were people (of the non-animated variety) aboard.

The floating feat sets a world record for the largest balloon cluster flight ever attempted, according to the National Geographic Channel. It filmed the flight as part of a new series called "How Hard Can It Be?" that's set to debut in the fall.

And if you're wondering how hard it can be to set a balloon-supported house aloft, well, "it was pretty hard," Paul Carson, the show's host, notes in the behind-the-scenes video below. "It was very difficult actually."

Pixar's 10th animated feature focuses on the fate of 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen, his house, and a wayward 8-year-old who happens by one day. Launched into the sky together by a cluster of balloons tied to the roof of Fredricksen's house, the two set off on what could safely be called a high-flying adventure.

It took the National Geographic team of scientists, engineers, and balloon pilots two weeks to pull off their version of the "Up" house--from the initial assignment through planning, building, and rigging the house and setting it aloft in the clear skies to cheers down below.

Carson picks "incredulity" to describe the dominant feeling among the crew as the house made its way skyward. As for us, "grinning like dopes" would about cover it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Liz Writes a Play!

(Liz was dared by her second-grade students to write a play featuring Justin Beiber.  This is the wonderful result.  Some of these lines are actual quotes attributed to Mr. Beiber, and I have rendered these in red for your convenience.)
Justin Bieber: A Play
Mrs. Kirk’s Second Grade Class
Narrator: Our play begins with meeting Brittany, who just learned that she has won a date with Justin Bieber before his big concert in Kermit, TX at Walton Field.
BRITTANY: OMG, I have a date with Justin Bieber!!! What will we do? What will I wear? What if….
GRANDMA: What are you talking about, silly girl? You ain’t going on no date with no Justin Bieber, and you sure ain’t going to the concert at Walton Field.
BRITTANY: But Grandma, I won the date fair and square, and he’s expecting me to go out with him and go to the show.
GRANDMA: Then plan on me comin’ along, just to make sure he doesn’t hurt my sweet Brittany’s feelings!!!
BRITTANY: But Grandma….
GRANDMA: Young lady, either I go with you on the date and to the concert, or NOBODY’S going!
BRITTANY: OK (sighs).
GRANDMA: Guess I’ll go see which church dress will look best at the concert. Don’t want to call attention to myself. (walks out the door)

BRITTANY: What am I going to do ? I can’t have Grandma coming with us….but
(At this moment, the doorbell rings. Brittany runs to answer the door. Standing at the door is Justin Bieber, along with his bodyguard, Gus).
GUS: Are you Brittany?
BRITTANY: (nods, unable to speak)
GUS: Brittany, this is my boss, Justin Bieber.
JUSTIN: Hello, Brittany. (hands her a single rose). I am so happy to see you.
BRITTANY: (still unable to speak)
JUSTIN: Are you ready to go?
(Just then, Grandma comes out of her bedroom in a brightly-flowered dress, straw hat, and white shoes. She sees Gus and Justin).
GRANDMA: Are you that Bieber that my granddaughter can’t stop talkin’ about?
JUSTIN: Yes ma’am.
GRANDMA: And who is that guy with you?
GUS: I am his bodyguard, Gus.
GRANDMA (looking both of them up and down): Not much body to guard, is there?
GRANDMA: I have just a few questions for you, Bieber.
JUSTIN: Please…my friends call me Justin.
GRANDMA: Bieber, what is your favorite thing in the world?
JUSTIN: Nothing gets my pulse racing like hockey. Well, nothing except Beyonce, but that wasn’t until I was 12 or so. It’s like I opened my eyes and noticed the world is full of beautiful girls, and I’ve had a hard time thinking of anything else ever since.
GRANDMA: SO…is my granddaughter Brittany pretty in your opinion?
JUSTIN: I haven’t seen any other girls here in Kermit. So…I guess she’s pretty….for a Kermit girl.
JUSTIN: Don’t get upset…I mean….I haven’t seen any girls that look like you.
BRITTANY: What does that mean?
GRANDMA: Settle down, Brittany! I have just one more question: What do you look for in a girl?
JUSTIN: A girl has to have a beautiful smile, beautiful eyes and she should have a good sense of humor. It would be a shame to go out with a hot girl you can’t have a decent conversation with.
JUSTIN: Just letting Grandma know what I like in a girl.
BRITTANY: Then you go out with Grandma! I’m not going!!! (Runs to her room)
GRANDMA: Are you ready to go to Allsup’s for a chimichanga?
JUSTIN: (Swallows hard)
GUS: Guess you have a date for Allsup’s.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Meet Our Endangered Lizard!

From KQRE:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing endangered species listing for a small lizard found only in southeastern New Mexico and West Texas.

The dunes sagebrush lizard is in danger of extinction throughout its entire range and faces significant threats due to oil and gas activities and herbicides, the agency said.

The light brown lizard, less than 3 inches long, lives in a small area of shinnery oak dunes in northeastern Chaves County, Roosevelt County, eastern Eddy and southern Lea counties in New Mexico and in a narrow band of the dunes in Gaines, Ward, Winkler and Andrews counties in Texas.

Yes, these are oaks.  This is how tall they get.
 The lizard has been affected by habitat loss and fragmentation from oil and gas development due to the removal of shinnery oak and the building of roads and pads, pipelines and power lines, Fish and Wildlife officials said.

The executive director of WildEarth Guardians in Santa Fe, John Horning, said he's cautiously optimistic about the Monday decision. He noted Fish and Wildlife officials propose to list the lizard under the Endangered Species Act, rather than saying a listing is warranted but precluded at this time, as it has done for other species.

The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to kill or harm a listed species. It requires federal agencies to minimize the impact of their activities on listed species and directs Fish and Wildlife to develop and carry out recovery efforts for those species.

In just the last two days, the agency said the Sonoran desert tortoise in the Southwest and the wolverine found in several western states warranted protection under the Endangered Species Act but won't be listed because of higher priorities - other species considered to be in greater danger.

Horning said he hoped the lizard could be listed in about six months. The final decision will be made by the Interior Department secretary.

"This is getting closer to the day the species will be afforded the protection the agency itself has said it has needed for a decade now," Horning said.

Fish and Wildlife will take comments on the listing through Feb. 14.

Steve Henke, president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said his organization was disappointed by the listing decision but not surprised.

"Anytime you're dealing with an endangered species on existing oil and gas leases, it creates additional challenges," Henke said.

The federal agency placed the lizard on the candidate list for endangered species protection in October 2001.

WildEarth Guardians said scientists warned 13 years ago it may be too late to save the lizard from extinction.

Horning said the species has declined since then and "faces an urgent situation."

(See also the Pecos Pupfish.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

UFO Over Jerusalem

From Fox News:  (Thanks to Rawhide)

A glowing orb filmed hovering over the skyline of Jerusalem has left UFO experts dumbfounded.

The circular object was seen descending slowly over the holy city's iconic Dome of the Rock before flickering and shooting skyward like a rocket. Similar clips have been seen before and debunked as hoaxes. But this latest sighting has proved more difficult to dismiss -- as it was recorded from four different perspectives.

Some UFO enthusiasts believe the videos -- which have taken the Internet by storm -- are final proof that aliens exist, while others say the unidentified object was the Hebrew god Elohim.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that flying over the Dome of the Rock landmark -- an ancient Islamic shrine -- is forbidden.

Two witnesses at the Armon Hanatziv panoramic lookout near Mount Zion filmed the object at 1am on Saturday. A little after one minute into the clip, the object descends slowly, almost to ground level.

The craft hovers there for a short while and then flickers before shooting upwards at an incredible speed.

Former Ministry of Defense UFO investigator Nick Pope said: "If these are real, they are some of the most incredible videos ever shot.

"If they are not, then this is a very well-planned and coordinated hoax designed to eliminate elements of doubt.

"The way it shoots up into the sky suggests it is unmanned, because no living thing could survive those kinds of G-forces.

"We know the Israeli army has some very high-tech drones at its disposal. If this is one, it is one of the most advanced pieces of technology created by man."

Another set of observers also uploaded their mobile phone footage to YouTube on Saturday.

They wrote: "Have fun debunking this one." In their video, the American tourists can be heard saying: "We've seen them in Mississippi like this."

Two other clips filmed from different viewpoints were posted online. Skeptics have noted the views come from perspectives that could make nearby objects seem farther away and faster-moving. Others say the whole thing was faked and have prepared several alternative versions of the videos which they say prove they are not real.

These include stabilized versions in which the brightness and contrast have been increased, which they claim highlights a major flaw of perspective.

Another is motion-tracked, and apparently shows the UFO "bouncing around like crazy" -- which, say the sceptics, shows the makers had trouble inserting it into the scene.
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