Wetlands primer: Don't repeat the same mistakes of 40 years ago

Lost in the crazy Trump show is a startling move by his EPA:

In 1976, 3,000 commercial fishermen and residents signed a petition that pleaded with state officials to do something about the runoff that plagued our estuaries and threatened their ability to make a living fishing. Many of these folks were from Hyde County, and they saw firsthand vast areas of wetlands converted to “superfarms” and other land uses. Trillions of gallons of drainage flowed directly into salty estuaries. This runoff made these essential fish nurseries much less productive for shrimp, oysters, flounder, trout and other commercially and recreationally important marine life.

This regulatory rollback proposed by EPA to eliminate most existing regulatory safeguards for wetlands in our state will extinguish our fishing industry. We know from the past experiences of our fishing forefathers that no wetlands means no seafood.

If there's one thing Republicans are masters at, it's forgetting the past. Or acting like they forget, which is even worse. You can take virtually any environmental movement of the last 50 years, and you'll see a cycle of progress and regress, needed changes gained and then subsequently lost. But when it comes to something as important as wetlands, what's lost cannot be gained back again. They're not just a breeding ground for seafood resources, they're also a critical habitat for stationary and migratory avian species. But preserving wetlands is also good business, because they can greatly mitigate losses from hurricanes and flooding:

Wednesday News: Window dressing

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JOHNSON THINKS PUBLIC RELATIONS AND MARKETING WILL HELP NC TEACHERS: Johnson had teased the news, saying beforehand that the event would include “major announcements for North Carolina’s education system.” Critics questioned making the announcement at a private, invitation-only event, especially after some people who registered were later disinvited after being told there weren’t enough seats. “We are very pleased with the tremendous response to this important event,” said Drew Elliot, a spokesman for Johnson. “We certainly wish we could accommodate every educator and citizen who would like to attend, but at some point, the room fills up.” Critics went on Twitter Tuesday night to criticize the event. “What NC Public Education doesn’t need is a slick PR campaign,” tweeted Tamika Kelly, an elementary school music teacher. “We need sustained and authentic investment in our public schools and that will sell itself. #NotInvited #InThisTogether #ncpol
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article226471360.html

Tuesday News: Immunity? Hah!

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BALLOT HARVESTER DOWLESS REFUSES TO TESTIFY IN NC09 HEARING: Bladen County political operative McCrae Dowless was willing to take the stand if compelled, a legal maneuver that would have given him immunity under state law to anything he testified to, attorney Cynthia Singletary said. The State Board of Elections wasn't willing to go that route, asking Dowless to testify voluntarily, as two of his underlings, his ex-wife and two Bladen County voters did Monday. Board Chairman Robert Cordle warned Dowless that the board might "take negative inferences" from his refusal as it weighs whether to call a new election in the 9th District. But Dowless is likely the subject of an ongoing criminal inquiry to the absentee ballot accusations, and though his attorney said he's innocent, she was not willing to put him on the stand in the state board's hearings.
https://www.wral.com/key-witness-won-t-testify-in-9th-district-hearing-while-others-detail-scheme-to...

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Everybody's talking except the one who needs to talk:

Don't know what he thinks he's achieving by pleading the 5th, other than driving home the fact he knows he's guilty.

The anti-abortion extremists in the NCGA are at it again

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And as usual, Republican men are leading the charge:

House Bill 28 would ban abortions after 13 weeks unless there is a medical emergency. Current law in North Carolina bans abortions after 20 weeks.

House Bill 22 would require doctors to tell women who take the abortion pill that the process can be reversed halfway through. The bill would also require the Department of Health and Human Services to provide that information on its website.

It goes without saying the 13-week limit is not only extreme, but geared towards severely limiting a woman's choice. But the "abortion reversal" thing, especially forcing NC DHHS to sign off on such a snake-oil treatment, is fraught with both ethical and legal complications. Here's a little history about this "process":

Monday News: Judgment day

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STATE ELECTIONS BOARD BEGINS ITS INVESTIGATION INTO NC09 TODAY: Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the unofficial count. But the board doesn't necessarily have to show that there are 905 votes in question. The law allows for a new election to be called if "irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness.” Some Republicans, citing court precedent, have said that only calling enough votes into question satisfies the law. But there are four separate reasons in the law for calling a new election, and the "taint" one doesn’t say anything about number of votes, while the three others do. There are allegations, including an affidavit from a poll worker, that totals from early in-person voting were shared with someone before Election Day. The state GOP is on record saying that, if this occurred, it’s a strategic advantage for Election Day turnout operations and enough on its own to warrant a new election.
https://www.wral.com/what-s-at-stake-in-state-investigation-into-alleged-fraud-in-9th-congressional-...

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NC SHOULD END LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR JUVENILES: It is time for our state to replace juvenile life without parole with a more sensible scheme, adopted by states from California to Wyoming, in which lengthy sentences are automatically reviewed at set time periods and juveniles are given the chance to demonstrate rehabilitation. Why make this change now? For one, overly harsh sentences for juveniles are a holdover from the 1990s, when the “superpredator” theory that predicted a surge in violent crime caused a nationwide panic. Here in North Carolina, judges sentenced 94 juveniles between ages 13 and 17 to life without parole, most of them in the 1990s. The superpredator theory has long been discredited -- the surge never materialized and juvenile crime actually decreased. And few of these sentences are handed down anymore: since 2011, juvenile life without parole has only been imposed five times in the state.
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article226343695.html

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