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UA grad to probe collision for Navy

A Little Rock native and graduate of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, will lead the U.S. Navy’s investigation into the June 17 collision of a Philippine-flagged container ship with the USS Fitzgerald, which resulted in the deaths of seven sailors. The Navy named Rear Adm. Brian Fort as the lead investigator Friday. Fort is commander of Navy Region Hawaii and commander of Naval Surface Group Middle Atlantic. Fort graduated from Little Rock Catholic High School in 1985 and the UA in 1989, receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

He earned a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College, according to a biography of him at navy.mil. Fort is also a graduate of the Joint Forces Staff College. The collision occurred on a clear night about 64 miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, when the ACX Crystal crashed nose-first into the Fitzgerald’s right side, according to the Navy. The 29,060-ton ACX Crystal is about four times the size of the Fitzgerald, which is a guided-missile destroyer. The Fitzgerald suffered severe damage, including a large puncture below the ship’s waterline, opening the hull to the sea, according to a news release. The collision caused rapid flooding of three compartments that included two berthing areas for 116 of the 300 crew members on the ship.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, which is based in Japan, held a news conference Sunday saying there may be several investigations of the collision. Fort is leading what is known as the Manual of the Judge Advocate General investigation.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is to take the lead on the marine casualty investigation,” Aucoin said. “We recognize that there are other organizations who have equities in this incident, and we expect they will conduct their own separate investigations. … I will not speculate on how long these investigations will last.”

According to a news article from the U.S. Naval Institute, Fort’s job will be to guide investigators who are collecting data from the ship, interview the crew and evaluate other details. Fort’s past assignments include command of the Norfolk, Va.-based USS Gonzalez, command of Destroyer Squadron 26 — serving as the sea combat commander for the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group — and command of the Navy Nuclear Power Training Unit at Ballston Spa, N.Y. He also served as executive officer of the Navy Nuclear Power Training Unit in Charleston, S.C., as the Navy Federal Executive Fellow at the George Washington University Elliot School of International Affairs.

Fort graduated in 1981 from Our Lady of the Holy Souls Catholic School in Little Rock, which has pupils from preschool through eighth grade. According to a post on the school’s Facebook page, Fort is married to the former Kelli Laine Simpson, who is a 1986 graduate of Mount Saint Mary Academy in Little Rock and a 1990 graduate of the UA, Fayetteville, with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. They have two daughters. Madison is a graduate of Texas A&M University, and Olivia is a student at Virginia Tech University, according to the post.

Metro on 06/24/2017

Bouncer alleges that scuffle with Lil Wayne was racially motivated

LOS ANGELES Lil Wayne, a New Orleans-based rapper, is being sued by a Hollywood bouncer who claims Lil Wayne made a racist remark during a scuffle. Andrew Nunemacher was allegedly working as a bouncer at the Hollywood Hyde Sunset Nightclub on June 27, 2016 when a scuffle between him and Lil Wayne and the rapper’s entourage allegedly ensued. Nunemacher claims Lil Wayne punched him, knocked him to the ground, threw a drink in his face and said F— you, white boy! Nunemacher is suing Lil Wayne for civil damages, including assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He also claims Wayne attacked him because of his race.

Peter Russell, a Gretna-based attorney, former police officer and a partner at McBride & Russell Law Firm LLC, told the Louisiana Record that he feels the bouncer could just be out to get money from the rapper.

It s obvious that the suit has been filed against Lil Wayne because of the money,” Russell said. “Deep pockets are the whole key to the suit. Russell doesn t represent the rapper. Russell believes that Lil Wayne may actually see the lawsuit as a positive.

I think the security guard is miscalculating with Lil Wayne,” Russell said. “Rappers like Lil Wayne are known for being macho. They talk about in rapping being a man and fighting and having women and money. Lil Wayne likes that tough guy personification. He sells records based on what he raps, how he lives his life.

Most of these types of suits settle out of court, Russell said.

“I think that the key [for Andrew Nunemacher] is to try and settle it, he said.

Russel said it is unlikely that the suit gets moved to New Orleans, where Lil Wayne is based.

I don t believe he could have brought it in Louisiana,” Russell said. “Louisiana law does allow for damages to occur out of the state to be brought in the state if a series of legal standards are met. However, whenever you re dealing with an intentional tort, say battery, that would be a stretch.”

Airport security, property tax, incivility, DART, gerrymandering, Juneteenth

Assuming bias

Re: “Extend your outrage to Muslim victims,” by Ramiro G. Hinojosa, Saturday Viewpoints. This commentary tells a story of outrage in which the author’s friend was detained by Customs officials at DFW International Airport, “most likely based on his appearance and name.” That statement needs to be proved, not alleged. His detention coming from Jamaica could have been due to drug screening, search for contraband, outstanding warrants, past criminal activities, etc., or maybe even a mistake. Nevertheless, this temporary restriction of movement was deemed a “trampling of his basic rights.”

Of course there are no interviews with Customs officials, no mention of complaints being filed (there is a process), nor any other follow-up to confirm the events were in fact true. Its basis assumes that any actions were not justified but were caused by bias.

John Beall, Dallas

Other inconvenient truths

Talk about inconvenience! Please consider the inconvenience of hundreds of thousands of travelers every day due to security checks at airports, trying to keep people safe from mostly Muslim extremism. And the inconvenience of hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are trying to keep their families safe from Muslim extremists. A better title for this piece would be: “Extend your outrage at the Muslim extremists who kill thousands each year by cars, knives, guns and suicide bombs.”

Don Skaggs, Garland

Tax protest system unfair

I believe the Dallas County tax appraisal protest system is unfair to older homeowners for two reasons: The process for appeal is mainly online, and a hearing is involved in a location unfamiliar to the homeowners, if they have transportation. What are they to do if they do not have a computer or transportation? What if they are not physically able to go to a hearing?

Rozanne Holmes, Coppell

The pox of incivility

I have a question for all of the letter writers asking for more civility in our political discourse who then turn around and blame it on the media or Democrats. Did you feel the same way when the right wing was calling President Barack Obama a Muslim, an illegitimate president, an anti-Christ, and every other name under the sun? Did you feel the same way when local elected officials were referring to the first lady as a gorilla? If not, then you’re part of the problem every bit as much as the most rabid Trump-hater.

Until this country recognizes that this is an issue that completely spans the political spectrum, we will make no progress.

Miner Raymond, Waco

Suburban transit

Re: “Take the regional approach — DART needs to build Cotton Belt line, says Ron Whitehead,” Tuesday Viewpoints. I support the firm appeal made by Whitehead, city manager of Addison from 1982 to 2014, for Dallas to take a balanced, regional approach to building both the downtown D2 route and the suburban Cotton Belt Line in Far North Dallas. I can appreciate Dallas’ new desires for walkability, bikeability and availability of transit for poor Dallas residents, but the promises of a regional transit system satisfying interests of suburban cities can’t be deferred forever. Suburban population growth and business development have advanced far beyond the expectations upon DART’s founding in 1982.

We have reached the point where two major cities exist side by side in North Texas: the city of Dallas and suburban Dallas. Does Dallas want to provoke the suburban cities to merge into a major city, challenging Dallas politically in Austin? If DART can’t work regionally, that’s the next alternative for suburban cities. Looking at the Cotton Belt route, one sees significant facilities to be accessed: University of Texas at Dallas, North Lake College and an alternate route to DFW Airport. Is Dallas’ real motivation to deny competing suburban business districts access to DFW Airport?

Frederick W. Fraley III, Dallas

As easy as 234

DART did have a connecting nonstop express route across North Dallas. The route was the 234 express bus running from the LBJ/Central rail station to the North Irving bus station then eventually into the Las Colinas rail station. The route started in the late ’90s using the old HOV lanes across LBJ. Ridership grew primarily due to the fast commute times across LBJ. With the LBJ construction, we lost the HOV lanes. Due to poor planning, lack of effective connections, increased commute times and inconsistent performance by DART, the ridership dropped dramatically. Before the route was canceled a year ago, the 234 bus briefly used the new HOV lanes across LBJ. Commute times were around 20 minutes from LBJ/Central to North Irving.

DART should consider connecting the Blue, Red, Green and Orange rail lines with a North Dallas crosstown express bus like the 234, using the LBJ HOV lanes. This North Dallas crosstown connection would be cheaper and easier to implement than the Cotton Belt route.

Glen Suhren, Garland

Gerrymandering begone

Re: “A Blow to Gerrymandering? Court decision could reshape American politics,” Tuesday Editorials

We, the voters, have tolerated our rigged election system for too long! We don’t get to choose our leaders. Thanks to partisan gerrymandering, they choose us. Without competitive voting districts, collaboration and compromise are unnecessary and even harmful to our complacent “representatives.” We continue to suffer partisan deadlock in Washington, D.C., and in Texas. The Supreme Court partisan gerrymandering case is both hopeful and long overdue. However, real change will be slow and more litigation is inevitable. States, like our Lone Star, continue to weaponize the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by willfully diluting the representation of minority voters. This shameless persistence is perplexing, and the failure of the House Redistricting Committee to hold any meetings since 2013 is unconscionable. Joint resolutions calling for an independent redistricting commission have been soundly ignored in every session. With Independence Day in mind, let’s raise our voices to our “elected” leaders for democracy’s sake. Call often. Ask them to end gerrymandering and to support joint resolutions for an independent redistricting commission.

Joanne M. Mason, Coppell

Erasing history

Re: “Juneteenth, about fun or freedom? Older generations want the emphasis to be on holiday’s historical significance,” Monday news story. I agree wholeheartedly with those quoted in the story about the younger generation not learning about history and their heritage, but from a different point of view. Being a fifth-generation Texan, my heritage includes the Confederacy; however, it seems a lot of people would like to erase this period from our history by removing statues, memorials, markers, etc. I am not a redneck white supremacist, but the Confederacy is a historical fact and should be remembered as such.

Sam Myers, Balch Springs