Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig (@ThinkwingRadio) is now on Wednesdays at 11AM (CT) on KPFT-HD2, Houston’s Community Station. You can also hear the show:
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Welcome to Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig where we discuss local, state, national, and international stories. My co-host and show editor is Andrew Ferguson.
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- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
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- Make sure you are registered to vote! VoteTexas.GOV – Texas Voter InformationTEXAS SoS VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOT APPLICATION (ALL TEXAS COUNTIES) HarrisVotes.com – Countywide Voting Centers, (Election Information Line (713) 755-6965), Harris County Clerk
- Harris County “Vote-By-Mail’ Application for 2021
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- For personalized, nonpartisan voter guides and information, Consider visiting Vote.ORG. Ballotpedia.com and Texas League of Women Voters are also good places to get election info.
- If you are denied your right to vote any place at any time at any polling place for any reason, ask for (or demand) a provisional ballot rather than lose your vote.
- HarrisVotes.com – Countywide Voting CentersHARRIS COUNTY – IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED FOR VOTING: Do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of these IDs?
- Fill out a declaration at the polls describing a reasonable impediment to obtaining it, and show a copy or original of one of the following supporting forms of ID:
- A government document that shows your name and an address, including your voter registration certificate
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- You may vote early by-mail if:You are registered to vote and meet one of the following criteria:
- Away from the county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period;
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- Make sure you are registered:
- Ann Harris Bennett, Tax Assessor-Collector & Voter Registrar
- CHECK REGISTRATION STATUS HERE
- CLICK How to register to vote in Texas
- Outside Texas, try Vote.org.
- Harris County “Vote-By-Mail’ Application for 2021
- BE REGISTERED TO VOTE, and for those of you whoa are eligible, REMEMBER TO FILL OUT AND MAIL YOUR MAIL-IN BALLOT APPLICATIONS FOR 2022
- BE REGISTERED TO VOTE, and for those of you who are eligible, REMEMBER TO FILL OUT AND MAIL YOUR MAIL-IN BALLOT APPLICATIONS FOR 2022
- Primary Election: March 1, 2022 – (These dates are subject to changes from the 2021 legislative session.) as per TEXAS Secretary Of State
- You can now apply for a mail-in ballot if you qualify.
- Last Day to Register to Vote for the Primary: Monday, January 31, 2022
- First Day of Early Voting in Person: Monday, February 14, 2022
- Last Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail (Received, if not Postmarked): Friday, February 18, 2022
- Last Day of Early Voting by Personal Appearance:Friday, February 25, 2022
- Last day for Receipt of Marked Ballot by Mail
- Last day top vote in person: Tuesday, March 1, 2022 (Election Day) at 7:00 p.m.
- Last day for an admissible mail-in ballot to be accepted: if carrier envelope for mail-in ballot is not postmarked is March 1st, OR Thursday, March 3, 2022 (next business day* after Election Day) at 5:00 p.m. if carrier envelope is postmarked by 7:00 p.m. at the location of the election on Election Day (unless overseas or military voter deadlines apply)4
- *First business day after Texas Independence Day
- League of Women Voters of Texas launches online Vote 411 [VOTE 411.ORG] tool in advance of primary elections; By Summer El-Shahawy | COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM | 4:56 PM Feb 1, 2022 CST, Updated 4:56 PM Feb 1, 2022 CST
- The League of Women Voters of Texas, a nonpartisan civic nonprofit, has put together an interactive, online voter guide to help educate people about the many upcoming races across Texas during election season.
- The interactive version of the guide, vote411.org, offers a variety of tools. The website will allow Texans to: check voter registration status; find the races and candidates on their ballot based on their address; access and compare candidates’ qualifications; access voting information and assistance; find polling locations and times; and create a printable personalized ballot to take to the polls. …
- MIKE: Very useful. I confirmed my registration and my wife’s registration on the site. But I can’t find a way to confirm that I’m approved for a mail-in ballot. I’ve emailed the office and hope for a response.
- ANDREW: I’d appreciate seeing info on the candidates for third party nominating conventions, but what is there is certainly useful.
- TxDOT commissioner optimistic about I-45 agreements; By Jishnu Nair | COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM | 5:33 PM Jan 31, 2022 CST | Updated 5:33 PM Jan 31, 2022 CST
- The Texas Department of Transportation’s Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan said the agency was confident that agreements could be reached with Harris County and the Federal Highway Administration over the controversial I-45 widening project.
- Ryan’s comments came at a luncheon hosted by the North Houston Association, a regional nonprofit business association. Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, who voted against the county’s initial lawsuit against TxDOT, moderated the conversation with Ryan.
- Ryan said the Federal Highway Administration, which opened an investigation into possible violations of the Civil Rights Act in October, was open to a “voluntary resolution agreement.” That agreement would allow some modifications to the design but the purpose of the project would not change. Ryan did not clarify which aspects of the design would be modified. …
- [Commissioner] Ryan also said TxDOT is still waiting on the timeline for funding to flow from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed in November, citing rulemaking processes as a reason for delays.
- TxDOT estimated about $28 billion will arrive to the state over five years. The vast majority of the funds will go to surface transportation such as roads and bridges.
- Ryan highlighted new grant programs available for application that would fund electric vehicle charging stations as well as the Protect program, which grants $8.7 billion to boost resilience for transportation systems, including upgrading existing infrastructure and strengthening evacuation routes.
- Mike: Commissioner Ryan also neglected to thank President Biden and the Congressional Democrats for all that money. Just saying.
- ANDREW: I’d appreciate seeing info on the candidates for third party nominating conventions, but what is there is certainly useful.
- TAGS: Houston Metro I-45 TxDOT Federal Highway Administration Stop TXDOT I-45 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Laura Ryan Tom Ramsey
- Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District opens public comments for subsidence study; By Jishnu Nair | COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM | 11:58 AM Jan 26, 2022 CST | Updated 12:11 PM Jan 26, 2022 CST
- The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District [LSGCD], the entity responsible for managing groundwater and its usage in Montgomery County, opened a 60-day public comment period on Jan. 26 following a stakeholder meeting to evaluate its subsidence study.
- Residents who wish to offer a public comment should email [mailto:email@example.com] with the subject line “Subsidence Study Phase 2 Public Comments.” Comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. March 25.
- Subsidence, which the U.S. Geological Survey defines as the sinking of land due to excess groundwater pumping, has been tracked in Montgomery County for decades, according to previous Community Impact Newspaper reporting and data from the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, a special-purpose district devoted to water conservation. …
- LSGCD General Manager Samantha Reiter told Community Impact Newspaper that the district would enforce the subsidence metric [established] following the Jan. 5 vote, when she voted to approve the DFCs [desired future conditions]. …
- At the Jan. 26 meeting, Reiter said the study is intended to provide monitoring “just for Montgomery County.”
- MIKE: Reference and email links are embedded withing the article. The article link is at ThinkwingRadio.com.
- MIKE: FYI, the LSGCD opposed the “desired future conditions” metrics because, LSGCD President Harry Hardman said, “One of our goals is … to educate the public overall on how we are using science to protect your water, your property rights and your freedom of choice.” Because obviously, only YOUR subsidence is not a community problem.
- ANDREW: Aside from [sub-sigh-dence] itself, which is important because it can cause unstable ground and flooding of buildings, what has the District done here and why do those actions matter? What might they suggest about future action from the District?
- Houston City Council approves plans for homelessness service center in Fifth Ward over pushback from some community members; By Sofia Gonzalez | COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM | 4:28 PM Jan 26, 2022 CST | Updated 4:43 PM Jan 26, 2022 CST
- Houston City Council met Jan. 26 to pass two ordinances pertaining to the reconstruction and leasing for a navigation center in the Fifth Ward that proponents said will help people transition out of homelessness. …
- The navigation center, which will be … at 2903 Jensen Drive, will host temporary housing for individuals who qualify. Those who go will have the opportunity to stay in the center for 30 to 60 days and then move onto permanent housing, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. During this time, those who go will also receive employment and medical assistance, he said.
- The center’s efforts are expected to extend into the community. Those in the Fifth Ward who are seeking either medical services or substance abuse assistance will have the opportunity to get the help that they need, according to Turner. …
- Speakers who opposed the center said that they felt the area is already burdened with issues and that the funding for the project should be spent elsewhere, such as either on a recreational center for the kids or on addressing a previously identified cancer cluster in the area tied to a Union Pacific Corp. railroad site.
- Others expressed concerns that the navigation center would cause residential property values to go down and have effects on surrounding businesses and infrastructure services.
- However, Mike Nichols, the CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County, said the navigation center will be an asset to the community, adding the “success of a coalition is a collaboration.” …
- The navigation center is the first of many ongoing efforts the city is implementing as part of the second phase of the Community COVID Housing Program. …
- MIKE: I think that most of the objections here are thinly (or not-so-thinly) disguised variations of NIMBY (Not In My Backyard). I’m sympathetic. But these so-called “navigation centers” have to go somewhere that’s accessible to people who need them. A compromise must be found that acknowledges the needs of the homeless and indigent, and the concerns of property and business owners in the area.
- MIKE: There’s a lot more in this story if you want to click on the story link at ThinkwingRadio.com. FYI, 5th Ward is roughly in the area where I-69 (formerly US-59) meets I-10.
- ANDREW: The only legitimate objection to me is the cancer cluster, but funding to deal with that should be approved alongside this service center, not instead of it.
- Two new polls of the Governor’s race; | by Charles Kuffner | OFFTHEKUFF.COM | Feb 1st, 2022
- Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is running 11 percentage points ahead of Democrat Beto O’Rourke in this year’s race for Texas governor, according to a Dallas Morning News-University of Texas at Tyler poll released Sunday.
- Buoyed by 2-to-1 support among whites and a growing number of voters who identify as Republican, Abbott leads O’Rourke in a hypothetical matchup, 47%-36%. He even holds a narrow lead over O’Rourke among Hispanics, 40%-39%.
- MIKE: There’s lots of more granular detail, so I recommend going to the story to read more.
- MIKE: Personally, I think State Senator John Whitmire would have a better chance against Abbott, as Whitmire is a centrist Democrat, but we play the hand we’re dealt. Whitmire is running for Houston Mayor.
- ANDREW: I appreciated Kuffner including a poll mentioning the third-party frontrunners. As for who would have a better chance against Abbott, I think the common wisdom that people like moderates isn’t true, and it conflates what people want with what the system encourages/allows them to vote for. Hate Inc. by Matt Taibbi addresses this concept of “electability” well. We need to push the boundaries of that system with more radical candidates if we’re going to have meaningful choices on the ballot.
- Federal judges won’t halt Texas primary in state Senate district being challenged for alleged discrimination; The redrawn state Senate District 10 splits Black and Hispanic voters in Tarrant County. A full trial on whether GOP lawmakers intentionally discriminated against voters of color is expected later this year. by Alexa Ura | TEXASTRIBUNE.ORG | Feb. 1, 2022, 9 hours ago
- A federal three-judge panel in El Paso on Tuesday denied a request by Tarrant County residents to block a reconfigured state Senate district from being used in the upcoming March primary election while they pursue a lawsuit arguing that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against voters of color when they redrew its boundaries.
- The legal challenge to Senate District 10 in the Fort Worth area offered the only avenue to alter the state political maps drawn last year by the Legislature before the primary election. The Republican-controlled Legislature used the once-a-decade redistricting process to draw maps solidifying the GOP’s political dominance while weakening the influence of voters of color.
- Without a successful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the maps will remain in place until later this year, when the panel is expected to hold a trial to hear the large collection of challenges to the new maps for the state House and Senate, the State Board of Education and the state’s Congressional seats. …
- The three-judge panel did not specify its reasons for siding with the state in its Tuesday order, saying those would be contained in a forthcoming opinion. The panel did note the state’s argument that an order to block the use of the redrawn SD-10 so close to the primary election would “fly in the face” of the Supreme Court’s previous warnings that lower courts should not make changes “on the eve of an election.”
- The challenge to SD-10 is just one of several federal lawsuits challenging the maps based on allegations that lawmakers discriminated — in some cases intentionally — against voters of color by diminishing the power of their votes. …
- [The Biden DoJ is part of this suit. The cases are being heard by 3 federal district judges: A Barack Obama appointee, a Donald Trump appointee, and a Reagan appointee.]
- MIKE: Elections have consequences. If the courts ultimately decide that these districts were illegally gerrymandered, any mischief done before such a ruling takes affect will still have the force of law. The legislative bell can’t be unrung.
- MIKE: FYI, “illegally gerrymandered” should be an oxymoron.
- ANDREW: Another opportunity to remind people of the Fair Representation Act, which would solve gerrymandering by combining a lot of single-member, one-party-majority districts into one big multi-member, multi-party district. As for the present, let’s hope the Supreme Court is willing to stop this, because as much as it is a bad idea to make big changes right before an election, it’s equally a bad idea to disenfranchise voters.
- ‘Levelling up’ plan for UK unveiled by Michael Gove; COM | Published 2/2/2022, 36 minutes ago
- The strategy, unveiled by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove [Yes, that’s actually his title – MIKE], will take until 2030 and aims to improve services such as education, broadband and transport.
- Mr Gove said it would “shift both money and power into the hands of working people”.
- But Labour said the plans contained no new money and little fresh thinking.
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson put “levelling up” at the heart of the Conservatives’ election-winning manifesto in 2019.
- The launch of the strategy sees the government try to return to its key policy agenda after weeks of pressure on the prime minister over reports of parties held at Downing Street during lockdown restrictions. …
- [According to one analysis:] There are new commitments beyond the existing Spending Review, for what the PM describes as his “defining mission”.
- But where a mission such as this has been achieved, for example in post-unification Germany, there have been massive fiscal transfers from rich regions to poor ones approaching one and a half trillion pounds, or £70bn a year.
- The stark fact is that GDP per capita in some east German regions now exceeds that in some northern English regions.
- The challenge is whether entrenched patterns of economic geography can really be changed without footing a very significant bill?
- MIKE: The Tories, like the Republicans, consistently promise “levelling up” or whatever they choose to call it at the time, but historically it’s been mostly hot air.
- ANDREW: As someone who plays video games, I formally object to conservatives using the term “level up” in any way, shape, or form. If they insist on using it, though, I’d suggest starting by “levelling up” the amount of money they distribute in disability and unemployment benefits, and “levelling up” the amount of people eligible to get them.
- Putin accuses U.S. of trying to lure Russia into war; By Natalia Zinets and Vladimir Soldatkin | REUTERS.COM | February 1, 2022, 2:39 PM CST, Last Updated 2 hours ago
- Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West on Tuesday of deliberately creating a scenario designed to lure it into war and ignoring Russia’s security concerns over Ukraine.
- In his first direct public comments on the crisis for nearly six weeks, a defiant Putin showed no sign of backing down from security demands that the West has called non-starters and a possible excuse to launch an invasion, which Moscow denies.
- “It’s already clear now … that fundamental Russian concerns were ignored,” Putin said at a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Hungary, one of several NATO leaders trying to intercede with him as the crisis has intensified.
- Putin described a potential future scenario in which Ukraine was admitted to NATO and then attempted to recapture the Crimea peninsula, territory Russia seized in 2014. …
- Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops [MIKE: current estimates are more like 130,000] on the Ukrainian border and Western countries say they fear Putin may be planning to invade.
- Russia denies this but has said it could take unspecified military action unless its security demands are met. …
- Russia cites 1999 charter text for insistence on ‘indivisible security’; REUTERS | February 1, 2022, 1:20 PM CST, Last Updated 4 hours ago
- Russia said on Tuesday it would insist that Western governments respect a 1999 agreement that no country can strengthen its own security at the expense of others, an issue it argues is at the heart of the Ukraine crisis. …
- [Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said] Russia’s stance was based on a 1999 charter signed in Istanbul by members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which includes the United States and Canada.
- The charter says countries should be free to choose their own security arrangements and alliances, but goes on to say that they “will not strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other states”.
- Russia accuses the West of doing precisely that by expanding NATO eastward since the Cold War and refusing to rule out granting membership to Ukraine. NATO says it is a defensive alliance that is open to new members.
- MIKE: For some historical perspective, Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, The USSR invaded western Poland on Sept 17, 1939 as part of a secret accord with Nazi Germany. (SEE: “The Soviet (as well as German) invasion of Poland was indirectly indicated in the “secret protocol” of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact signed on 23 August 1939 … In November 1939 the Soviet government annexed the entire Polish territory under its control.”) Most of the part of Poland that the Soviets annexed is still part of western Ukraine. Western Poland is part of what used to be eastern Germany. What is now the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad used to parts of German Prussia, which is why its to the west of the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Crimea was ceded to the Ukrainian SSR by Soviet Russia in 1956.
- MIKE: The Budapest Memorandum from December 1994 traded the nuclear weapons in Ukraine’s possession for assurances of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The West claims that Putin violated that agreement by annexing Crimea. “On 4 March 2014, [Russian president Putin] replied to a question on the violation of the Budapest Memorandum, describing the current Ukrainian situation as a revolution: “[A] new state arises, but with this state and in respect to this state, we have not signed any obligatory documents.” Russia stated that it had never been under obligation to ‘force any part of Ukraine’s civilian population to stay in Ukraine against its will. …”
- QUOTE: Charles Eustis “Chip” Bohlen once noted that the Soviet negotiating strategy was, “What’s ours is ours. What’s yours is negotiable.” ~ By C. L. SULZBERGER, JULY 30, 1975
- REFERENCE: Russia calls Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 a ‘march of liberation’; Halya Coynash | KHPG.ORG (Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group: Information Portal «Human Rights in Ukraine» | 20.Sept.2021
- REFERENCE: Soviet invasion of Poland; From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- REFERENCE: Kaliningrad, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: … “Königsberg was the easternmost large city in Germany until World War II. The city was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in 1944 and during the Battle of Königsberg in 1945; it was then captured by the Soviet Union on 9 April 1945. The Potsdam Agreement of 1945 placed it under Soviet administration. The city was renamed to Kaliningrad in 1946 in honor of Soviet revolutionary Mikhail Kalinin. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it is governed as the administrative centre of Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast, an exclave sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland.
- REFERENCE: Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances refers to three identical political agreements signed at the OSCE conference in Budapest, Hungary on 5 December 1994 to provide security assurances by its signatories relating to the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers: the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. China and France gave somewhat weaker individual assurances in separate documents. The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. As a result, between 1994 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons. Until then, Ukraine had the world’s third-largest nuclear weapons stockpile, of which Ukraine had physical, but not operational, control. … After the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US stated that Russian involvement was a breach of its Budapest Memorandum obligations to Ukraine which had been transmitted to the United Nations under the signature of Sergei Lavrov and others, and in violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. On 4 March 2014, the Russian president Vladimir Putin replied to a question on the violation of the Budapest Memorandum, describing the current Ukrainian situation as a revolution: “a new state arises, but with this state and in respect to this state, we have not signed any obligatory documents.” Russia stated that it had never been under obligation to “force any part of Ukraine’s civilian population to stay in Ukraine against its will.” Russia tried to suggest that the US was in violation of the Budapest Memorandum and described the Euromaidan as a US-instigated coup.”
- REFERENCE: “Planned Division of Eastern Europe according to Molotov-Ribbentrop Agreement vs. Actual changes 1939-1940”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_invasion_of_Poland#/media/File:Ribbentrop-Molotov.svg
- ANDREW: I said last week that I was concerned about fascist elements in the Ukrainian government, but that I supported NATO action. I’m changing my support for NATO intervention after doing more research.
- ANDREW: From what I’ve read, in 2014, the Ukrainian President was overthrown after he refused to enact economic reforms from the US-backed International Monetary Fund that would have made Ukraine more friendly to international corporations. Soon after, a plebiscite was held in Crimea as to whether the people there wanted to remain part of Ukraine or be annexed by Russia. The vote was 95% in favor of Russian annexation. Therefore, I consider the annexation of Crimea a clear case of self-determination, and I don’t accept that it’s an indicator that Russia is trying to take over other nations to expand its borders. I don’t believe that Russia should invade Ukraine, and there may be an argument for international intervention to protect Ukrainian sovereignty should a true invasion happen, but right now, I don’t believe that Russia has any intention of invading actual Ukrainian territory.