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Posted by Kami G on April 28, 2014 at 1:25 PM

 

 

 

 

4/24/14

 

 

Kami’s In The Know!

 

 

Feds: New laws, oversight needed after Texas blast

A destroyed car sits as firefighters conduct a search and rescue of an apartment complex destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, Thursday, April 18, 2013. A massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160, officials said overnight.

  

WEST, Texas -- The Texas fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people a year ago could have been prevented - and agencies at all levels haven't done enough to change the circumstances that led to the catastrophe, federal officials said Tuesday.

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The U.S. Chemical Safety Board presented its preliminary findings about the blast in West, Texas, in front of a packed room of residents and town officials still rebuilding after the April 17, 2013, explosion leveled part of the tiny town and injured 200 people.

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Even though several investigations have not determined the exact cause of the fire, the board says it's clear the owners of West Fertilizer Co. failed to safely store hazardous chemicals or prepare for a potential disaster. The board also said several levels of federal, state and local government missed opportunities to prevent the tragedy.

Investigators said the firefighters who rushed to an initial fire at the plant didn't know enough about the dangers they faced inside: 40 to 60 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizer that detonated due to the blaze.

But experts on a panel convened by the safety board said Tuesday night that even if the firefighters had known more, there still isn't clear guidance on what to do in that kind of situation.

Glenn B. Corbett, a professor at the City University of New York, faulted guidelines that suggest firefighters should try to douse such a fire until it becomes "massive," a term he said was too vague to determine in an emergency.

"It is best to simply move everyone back and let the fire burn itself out," Corbett said.

There was also a gap between U.S. and Texas agencies on whether the fertilizer plant needed to comply with federal guidelines on disaster preparedness due to its stores of ammonium nitrate, safety board investigator Rachael Gunaratnam said. That disconnect "left emergency responders and residents unprepared for April 17," she said.

Despite investigations that have yielded information about safety deficiencies at the plant and voluntary safety steps taken by the nation's fertilizer industry, not a single state or federal law requiring change has been passed since April 17, 2013.

West Mayor Tommy Muska thanked the board for holding its meeting in the still-rebuilding city, but questioned whether investigators needed to focus more on the production of ammonium nitrate - a chemical that was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing - and ways to add additives to make it safer.

"It seems to me that it would be more effective and easier to regulate if you had a mandate for a safer product," Muska said.

John Crowder, the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of West, said the firefighters who responded to the fertilizer plant deserved credit for doing the best they could. He cited Corbett's testimony about the potentially confusing guidance for when to pull away from the fire.

"Our firefighters had 20 minutes to get to the scene and do all that assessment, evaluation, and clarification of priorities," he said.

An ongoing investigation by federal and state officials has narrowed the possible causes of the fire to three things: a golf cart battery, an electrical system or a criminal act. No one has been charged.

Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said federal, state and local agencies could all do more. He said he believes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has enough authority already to require companies to follow stricter guidelines.

In Texas, companies can still store hazardous chemicals in flammable wooden containers in buildings without sprinklers, and volunteer firefighters still aren't required to train how to fight such blazes.

Moure-Eraso suggested Texas could change the law to allow small counties to enact their own, and said officials in McLennan County, where West is located, could have done more to prepare an emergency response plan for the plant.

But he laid the ultimate responsibility for preventing the disaster on West Fertilizer Co.

"What the regulators do is basically monitor what is happening, but the primary responsibility has to be for whoever is putting this chemical in commerce," Moure-Eraso said. "The regulators themselves are not the ones that caused this thing."

A spokesman for the owners of the plant did not respond to a message. The owners have denied allegations that the plant was negligent in how it handled and stored ammonium nitrate.

(Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

 

Miss Black Texas US Ambassador 

 

The Miss Black US Ambassador and Miss Black Teen US Ambassador Scholarship Pageant LLC in partnership with the GE Institute Foundation Inc. exists to give a once in a lifetime opportunity to young African American women. As Ambassadors of Change,  each young woman embarks on the journey to encourage, empower, and enlighten, communities, states, and nations. These young women are a rising voice in the community that seek to make a difference, by providing educational forums and events that focus on health disparities, poverty, violence and major issues plaguing the African American community. They are role models not only to young African American women, but to women around the world. Ambassadors of Change partner with key political figures and national initiatives to bring support to their efforts and platforms.

The Miss Black US Ambassador experience is more than a competition. It’s a scholarship program that gives 365 days of support and resources to communities in need.  A platform for today’s savvy, intelligent and socially aware women of color to express their educated viewpoints, demonstrate their extraordinary talents and showcase not just their pretty face, but their gorgeous mind. The crowned national Ambassadors receive scholarship opportunities to further their education.

 Learn more about this program and how your daughters can participate.:

Darnetta Forteau

Marketing and Local Outreach Director

Miss Black Texas US Ambassador Scholarship Pageant

p.469.471.4797

Twitter: @MBUSAMTEXAS

  

 

 

      

Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  

WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service has paid more than $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with recent disciplinary problems, including $1 million to workers who owed back taxes, a government investigator said Tuesday.

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More than 2,800 workers got bonuses despite facing a disciplinary action in the previous year, including 1,150 who owed back taxes, said a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The bonuses were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012.

George's report said the bonus program doesn't violate federal regulations, but it's inconsistent with the IRS mission to enforce tax laws.

"These awards are designed to recognize and reward IRS employees for a job well done, and that is appropriate, because the IRS should encourage good performance," George said. "However, while not prohibited, providing awards to employees who have been disciplined for failing to pay federal taxes appears to create a conflict with the IRS's charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration."

Other examples of misconduct by workers getting bonuses included misusing government credit cards for travel, drug use, violent threats and fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits.

The IRS said it has developed a new policy linking conduct and performance bonuses for executives and senior level employees.

"Even without a formal policy in place over the past four years, the IRS has not issued awards to any executives that were subject to a disciplinary action," the IRS said in a statement. "We are also considering a similar policy for the entire IRS workforce, which would be subject to negotiations with the National Treasury Employees Union."

The IRS had about 100,000 workers during the period under review.

In the 2011 budget year, more than 70,000 IRS workers got cash bonuses totaling $92 million, the report said. In the 2012 budget year, nearly 68,000 workers got cash bonuses totaling $86 million.

The report said the IRS considers prior conduct before awarding permanent pay increases. "However, IRS officials stated that the IRS generally does not consider conduct issues when administering other types of awards," the report said.

There are no government-wide policies on providing bonuses to employees with conduct issues, the report said. However, a 1998 law calls for removing IRS employees who are found to have intentionally committed certain acts of misconduct, including willful failure to pay federal taxes.

Tax compliance at the IRS is generally better than at other federal agencies.

In 2011, 3.2 percent of federal workers owed back taxes, according to IRS statistics. The Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, had the lowest delinquency rate, at 1.1 percent.

The delinquency rate for the general public was 8.2 percent.

(Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Joe is a client who can speak on the above topic and more.:

 

Joe Mastriano, CPA 

CPA and IRS Problem specialist

(work) 713-774-4467  

[email protected] 

www.taxproblem.org

 

Joe is also available for Skype interviews. killerirscpa

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the new Kid on the block, I actually learned from a very good friend of mine who was in the media for several years, that you have to bring the story to the media. Kami’s In The Know—Story idea’s will bring you just that. Communities are huge and you can’t be everywhere so we are here to help you with news great tips an idea’s focusing on DFW/Houston communities.

We are another source that will read through all of those papers and watch all of those major market newscasts to find new leads for just for you.

 

 

Kami Grayson,

Director of PR/Social Media for the

Kami Grayson PR Agency

5735 Timber Creek Place #506

Houston, TX 77084

Off1-214-702-8506

Off -713-774-4467

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Serving Houston and Dallas Texas

 

 

 

 

TOP Community News!

Dallas ISD’s Townview TAG named best high school in America

By Matthew Haag

[email protected]

7:10 pm on April 22, 2014 | Permalink

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Dallas ISD’s School for the Talented and Gifted School is the top high school in the country, according to latest annual study by U.S. News & World Report .

The magazine gave the school at Townview Center the top honor because of its college-readiness rate and student performance in specific subjects. Another school at Townview, the School of Science and Engineering Magnet, was ranked eighth in the country.

Both schools are among DISD’s magnet schools, which require students to meet academic standards to attend. Dallas ISD had 10 schools among the top 160 high schools in the country. All were magnets.

Townview TAG has been the premier school in DISD for years. Principal F. Michael Satarino ran the campus for years until this school year, when 26-year-old Ben Mackey took over.

Matthew Haag writes about the Dallas Independent School District. Follow @matthewhaag.

 

Celebrity Birthdays

    Kellin Quinn, 27 Singer         Phil Robertson, 67 Reality Star       Kelly Clarkson, 31 Singer Barbra Streisand, 71 Singer  Ryan Newman, 15 Movie Actress  Alli Simpson, 15 Movie Actress  Sachin Tendulkar, 40 Cricket Player  Larramie Shaw, 21 TV Actor   

 

On This Day in History

Apr 24, 1962:

Patti LaBelle makes her debut on the pop charts, sort of  

 Blessed with a fine voice and an engaging stage presence, Patti LaBelle has earned countless hits on the R&B charts as a solo artist, as well as a pair of crossover #1 pop hits in "On My Own" (1986, sung with Michael McDonald) and the timeless "Lady Marmalade" (1975, with the group Labelle). If there is any asterisk that belongs in an assessment of a career that began when her first single hit the pop charts nearly five decades ago, it is this: Patti LaBelle and her group the Blue Belles had never even been in a recording studio when their debut single, "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman," entered the Billboard Hot 100 on this day in 1962. In a move that was far from unprecedented at this time—the same thing happened with The Crystals' "He's A Rebel" (1961), for instance—Patti and her cohorts were credited with a hit record they had nothing to do with creating.

Patti LaBelle was still going by her given name, Patricia Holte, when she first teamed up in 1961 with fellow Philadelphians Cindy Birdsong (a future Supreme), Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash to form a group called the Ordettes. In the meantime, a Chicago group called the Starlets was touring with the likes of Jackie Wilson and the Spinners on the strength of a minor hit called "Better Tell Him No." While visiting Philadelphia, the Starlets somehow found themselves in a recording studio located on a used-car lot operated by a salesman named Harold Robinson. Among the tracks Robinson had the Starlets record that day was the Leon René song "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman." While the details of what followed remain murky, the upshot was that while the Starlets went on about their business elsewhere, Newton Records released "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" in early 1962 under the new name of the former Ordettes: the Blue Belles. After entering the pop charts on this day in 1962, the record went on to peak at #15 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the Billboard R&B charts. Patti LaBelle's group would earn two more top-40 hits on their own in the next two years, but it would be another 11 years after that before they bested the performance of their so-called debut with 1975's Lady Marmalade.

 

 

 

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