TFN: Travis County GOP ‘dives into the deep end of the crazy pool’

Posted on 23 Sep 2015 at 11:35am

Screen shot 2015-09-23 at 11.16.42 AMThe Travis County Republication “dived into the deep end of the crazy pool” this week, according to the Texas Freedom Network, which called out the Austin-based GOP group for a Monday night tweet promoting a right-wing blog that labeled Islam as a “satanic cult of murder.”

The Tweet — removed from the group’s Twitter feed late Tuesday morning, but not before TFN got a screen capture — linked to the blog that starts with the slam on Islam and goes on to call former President George W. Bush a traitor and a coward.

While the Travis County Republicans are wrong for tweeting such crap out to a larger audience, at least that group had the good sense to remove the tweet. has left the post written by Bob Russell up on its page.

Russell’s post starts out, “Christianity is a religion but Islam is merely a satanic cult of rape, torture, murder, bestiality, and satan worship!!!!!” That’s the part Travis County GOP tweeted out on Monday night, Sept. 21. And it’s “all downhill from there, with the writer demonstrating … an almost unhinged hatred for Muslim,” TFN notes.

Russell George W. Bush and goes after other Christians, notably the Roman Catholic Church.

Here’s one section on “moslems” and Bush: “I remember an instance in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein where a group of ‘jihadists’ fired on American soldiers then hid in a mosque. The Americans returned fire, causing minor damage. The ‘outrage’ of the worldwide islamic cult and the Bush hating ‘American’ media was vociferous. The American government led by the coward and traitor George Bush immediately dispatched millions of dollars to the islamist terrorists to pay homage to allah/satan but before any repairs were made the other sect of the satanic cult blew it up with a truck bomb. The total destruction of the house of satan was met with silence from moslems and the ‘American’ media.”

Then there’s this declaration: “The catholic church is very prominent in the importation of members of the satanic cult of islam while ignoring middle east Christians who are being slaughtered by islamic satanists.”

Liberals, who “stand with the Godless islamic cult against Christianity,” also came in for their fair share of abuse: “Those who constantly scream ‘separation of church and state’ in regards to the legitimate religion of Christianity ( the religion this nation is based on) have no issue with the satanic cult of islam being taught to their children in the public schools.”

Then Russell falls back on the usual “God’s gonna get you” warnings: “I wonder how long it will be until God destroys this nation (as He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) for the cruelty to the innocent, and its promotion of immorality and satan worship.”

Lump this in with the fact that crazy-ass Donald Trump — whose idea of foreign policy and immigration reform is to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it —  is the frontrunner in the GOP presidential primary race (closely followed by the possibly-even-crazier Ben Carson) and the idea of the GOP winning in 2016 gets even scarier than before.


Grand jury declines to indict Griggs over April incident

Posted on 22 Sep 2015 at 4:44pm

Dallas Councilman Scott Griggs

A Dallas County grand jury today, Tuesday, Sept. 22, declined to indict Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs following allegations he threatened a city employee.

Griggs was accused of threatening Assistant City Secretary Bilierae Johnson in April over a dispute over the council agenda yelling, “You better not push those briefing materials out or I will break your fucking fingers!”

An indictment and possible felony charge could have landed cost Griggs his law license and up to 10 years in prison.

Griggs denied the charges from the beginning, even submitting to and passing a lie detector test. Supporters, including fellow councilmen Adam Medrano and Philip Kingston, said the charges were trumped up and retaliation by the mayor for his outspoken opposition to the Trinity toll road, fracking and other issues.

He ran for re-election in May unopposed – along with Kingston and Medrano.


Scenes from Dallas Pride 2

Posted on 22 Sep 2015 at 3:00pm

Scenes from Dallas Pride 1

Scenes from Dallas Pride 3

Scenes from Dallas Pride 4


This year’s Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade winners announced

Posted on 22 Sep 2015 at 11:46am

_MG_9271Winners of this year’s pride parade were announced today, Tuesday, Sept. 22, in categories ranging from best performance to best interpretation of a parade theme.

Kaliente won for best overall entry.

The full list of winners is below:

Best Overall Entry: Kaliente

Best Performance: Oak Lawn Band

Best Walking Group: Dallas Victims of Crime Flaggots

Best Costume: United Court of the Lone Star Empire

Best Social Commentary: UCC Cathedral of Hope

Best For-Profit Entry: Club Los Rieles

Best Non-Profit Entry: St. Stephen United Methodist Church

Judges’ Choice: JJ’s Out and About

Best Interpretation of Parade Theme: Caven Enterprises

Congratulations to all the winners!


Scenes from Dallas Pride 1

Posted on 22 Sep 2015 at 10:46am

Scenes from Dallas Pride 2

Scenes from Dallas Pride 3

Scenes from Dallas Pride 4


Dallas could jeopardize perfect MEI score by announcing it early

Posted on 22 Sep 2015 at 9:56am

Dallas city employees formed CAPE and Dallas got 2 points for that

Dallas received a preliminary perfect score of 100 on the Municipal Equality Index, but could jeopardize that score by announcing it early. The MEI is not released until November.

City Council received a briefing on Monday and the new scores, sent out to cities across the country so that employees and LGBT groups could review and comment ahead of publication, were explained.

Dallas Observer and Dallas Morning News ran with the news. But Dallas could be penalized by Human Rights Campaign, which compiles the MEI, because the score is not final and is not for publication.

That having been said, here’s how Dallas got to 100.

Last year, the city received 91. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality, so scores were adjusted to account for that. In addition, Dallas equalized pension benefits and family medical leave to apply to all employees. Without Texas blocking Dallas from being the city it wanted to be, the MEI score became 96.

Then Cheryl Orr, the city diversity officer, found several things she thought deserved consideration by HRC. The city partnered with Coalition for Aging LGBT to host a conference and Councilman Adam Medrano was involved in its implementation. Cannon Flowers, who chairs the new organization, was made a member of the mayor’s LGBT Task Force. Dallas got 2 points.

Over the past year, city employees formed an employee resource group called CAPE — City Association for Promoting Equality — and Dallas had never gotten credit for its mayor’s task force. Two points.

The only other city with a score of 100 is Austin. Of course, publishing this information could give Dallas a penalty. Any penalty, even one point, puts Dallas behind Austin, but still ranks us as one of the most inclusive cities in the country.

Fort Worth added points this year as well. That city is over 90 in this year’s MEI.

Grand Prairie added some points as well. It has a good anti-bullying policy that enumerates categories and has an inclusive nondiscrimination policy for city employees. How did that happen without an outcry? It’s been in place for a number of years and was added administratively. No one has filed a complaint under the policy. It’s cost the city exactly nothing. And its employees work in a safe environment and just do their jobs. Funny how that works.

Other cities in the area didn’t do so well. Plano actually lost points for its nondiscrimination policy that was poorly written and then protested so obnoxiously by Prestonwood Baptist Church and its organizers from Houston.

Maybe one day, some of Dallas’ suburban cities, like Irving, will wake up. Oh wait, Irving banned the possession of clocks, didn’t they?

Irving, home of the Boy Scouts of America and ExxonMobil, gets the big fat zero it deserves. And it deserves a zero, because unlike the Corporate Equality Index, HRC doesn’t have negative scores on the MEI. ExxonMobil receives a special score of minus-25 each year because of the special effort it makes each year to deny its employees equality.

But if the Boy Scouts can vote to allow gay troop leaders and employees, a policy agreed to earlier this year, Irving can move beyond its mayor, who was elected because of her ordinance banning Sharia Law in her city. And its police department can move beyond handcuffing a genius kid because he’s Muslim.

Elsewhere in the state, Houston lost points for its recall of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

But here in Dallas, we get 100 — unless we lose points for opening our big, fat, proud mouths too soon.

Really HRC, we only mentioned it because the score makes us proud.


Former hedge funder jacks up the cost for toxoplasmosis med

Posted on 21 Sep 2015 at 3:27pm

Martin Shkreli

Thanks to the efforts of former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, a medication used by certain HIV patients has  jumped in price overnight last month from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet.

The exorbitant leap in price for Daraprim came after Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals purchased the rights to the drug for $55 million. Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis, an opportunistic infection, which can be deadly in certain patients, including those whose immune systems are already compromised — like people with HIV and those battling certain kinds of cancer. Pyrimethamine is listed in World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system. It has been on the market since 1953.

Shkreli claims Turing will use the extra money it gets from increasing the price of Daraprim to develop better treatments for toxoplasmosis. According to Raw Story, Shkreli said, “This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business. He also defended the price hike by saying many patients use the drug for far less than a year and that the new price is similar to other drugs used for rare diseases, and claimed “It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this.”

But some doctors are more skeptical. Dr. Wendy Armstrong, professor of infectious diseases at Atlanta’s Emory University, said, “I certainly don’t think this is one of those diseases where we have been clamoring for better therapies.”

And Dr. Judith Aberg,  chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, asked, “What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?”

Aberg told USA Today that even patients with insurance could have trouble affording the medication because insurance companies often put high-price drugs in the “specialty” category, requiring patients to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. Patients whose insurance plans require them to pay 20 percent of the cost would have to pay $150 a pill.

According to, Daraprim — scientific name pyrimethamine — “is an approved antibiotic used in combination with a sulphonamide drug such as sulfadoxine for the treatment of toxoplasmosis. It also has anti-malarial activity, and is used in combination with sulfadoxine to prevent and to treat malaria. Pyrimethamine has also been studied as a preventive treatment for Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) and toxoplasmosis in HIV-positive patients. However, it is now more commonly used in combination with other drugs, including dapsone, sulfadoxine or folinic acid as prophylaxis. For people who cannot tolerate cotrimoxazole (Septrin), it may also be used on its own or in combination with folinic acid or sulfadoxine to treat isosporiasis and prevent relapses.”

This isn’t Shkreli’s first brush with controversy involving pharmaceuticals. He started the hedge fund MSMB Capital while in his 20s and was accused of urging the FDA to not approve certain drugs made by companies whose stock he was shorting.

In 2011, Retrophin, a biotechnology company dedicated to creating treatments for orphan diseases, was created and run from the offices of MSMB Capital as a portfolio company. Shkreli was fired by the board of Retrophin and replaced as CEO by Stephen Aselage in September 2014. The company then filed a $65 million lawsuit against Shkreli in August this year, claiming he breached his duty of loyalty to the biopharmaceutical company in a long-running dispute over his use of company funds.

But while Shkreli was still CEO, Retrophin bought the rights to thiola, used to treat a rare disease called cystinuria, and then jumped the price up about 20-fold.


Man attacked on Wycliff, hospitalized after parade

Posted on 21 Sep 2015 at 3:04pm

Screen shot 2015-09-21 at 1.56.18 PMA 29-year-old man, who was walking to friend’s house at 9:15 p.m. on Sept. 20 after the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and festival, was attacked by four men at the intersection of Sylvester and Wycliff,  according to police reports. Dallas police have not yet identified the man, other than to say he was a white man, and investigators have no suspects.

Attackers first hit the man with their fists and kicked him, according to the Dallas Police report, and then used a baseball bat to continue the assault. The victim suffered abrasions and bruises and a fractured skull. He was hospitalized and was in stable condition by Monday morning, Sept. 21.

During the attack, the assailants went through the victim’s pockets and stole personal items from him before continuing to beat him while using anti-gay language. Because the offense occurred after the Pride parade, “a day of historical significance in the GLBT community,” the report from police states, “preliminary investigation indicates that this offense meets the criteria of a hate crime.”

Another factor, according to police, is that the assault and the derogatory language continued after removing the victim’s property.

Because a bat that is considered a deadly weapon, police are classifying the crime as an aggravated robbery, which is  first degree felony punishable by 5-99 years or life in.

The hospitalized man was unable to provide any description of the men or their vehicle.

The Robbery Unit is canvassing for witnesses and video evidence.  Anyone with information about this offense or these suspects is asked to contact  Dallas Police Det. Arredondo at 214-671-3638.



Record crowds attend Dallas Pride

Posted on 21 Sep 2015 at 11:00am

IMG_2418Following the trend of other Pride celebrations across Texas this summer, Dallas Pride attracted record crowds. Dallas police said they would release their official estimate later today.

New this year was the festival in Reverchon Park. Previous festivals have been staged in Lee Park. Although Reverchon remained packed throughout the afternoon, the new location was much larger than Lee Park. At one point, entry to the park was so backed up that the line was more than a block long.

The parade itself was larger than usual as well. Although there were about the same number of entries as always, contingencies participating in the parade were larger than in the past. Organizations and companies that marched with fewer than 25 people behind a banner, amped it up this year and attracted more than 100 people showing their pride. Many more entries featured colorful floats this year than ever before.

The parade route was several blocks longer than in the past. Instead of a left turn on Turtle Creek Boulevard to go one block to Lee Park, the parade turned right and traveled five blocks to Reverchon Park. However, the parade made a dead end at Maple Avenue that was already choked with traffic, causing a bottleneck that ran several blocks at some points.

Watch for this post to be updated with estimated crowd size, and watch for more posts today and in the days to come with photos from the parade and from Reverchon Park.

More parade photos here. Below: photos of Grand Marshals Patti Fink and Evilu Pridgeon and Honorary Grand Marshal Ty Herndon as well as Dallas City Council and former Mayor Laura Miller.


PHOTOS: Dallas Pride 2015 … as seen from the ilume

Posted on 21 Sep 2015 at 10:52am

A view of Pride from the ilume. Photos by Arnold Wayne Jones. Look for more photos Friday in Scene.