GOP's newest attack on UNC System: 2 + 2 = 4

Forcing freshmen and sophomores into community colleges:

Speaking to a UNC Board of Governors committee, a key legislator hinted that a “guaranteed admission program” is ultimately intended to channel up to a quarter of the system’s undergraduates into community college.

He didn’t elaborate, except to say the attempt isn’t likely to come in this year’s session of the N.C. General Assembly. But such a move would almost certainly involve giving UNC campuses less of a per-student subsidy for freshmen and sophomores than for upperclassmen.

There are probably some (many?) reading this who think this might be a good idea. Heck, both of my UNC System graduate children took this route. But that transition from one institution to the next was far from easy, and ended up costing each of them an extra semester in the process. The General Assembly needs to keep its hands out of this situation, and let the students and their parents decide the best route for a degree. Aren't they the ones harping about "choice" anyway?

Sunday News: Come on, Darwin

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N.C. DRIVER STRANDED IN BLIZZARD SHOOTS AND KILLS GOOD SAMARITAN (New York Daily News) -- A North Carolina driver stranded during Friday’s deadly blizzard shot and killed a good Samaritan who tried to help, officials said. Marvin Jacob Lee, 27, was charged with murder after he allegedly killed Jefferson Heavner of Newton, one of three men who tried to help him after he lost control of his car on an icy Catawba Country road.
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/n-driver-stranded-blizzard-kills-good-samaritan-article-1.2507210

Propaganda over science: Van der Vaart a reliable industry puppet

Seismic testing for offshore drilling is far from harmless:

The National Science Foundation safely conducted a 2D seismic survey off the coast of North Carolina last fall. Interestingly, this study did not receive the attention that the proposed studies have generated, despite the fact that they used the same technology that is proposed for oil and gas seismic data collection. The N.C. Divisions of Coastal Management and Marine Fisheries did not receive any reports of disturbances or injury to marine wildlife and are unaware of any adverse impacts resulting from those surveying activities.

That is consistent with observations made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in May 2015, which found no evidence that serious injury, death or stranding by marine mammals can occur from exposure to air gun pulses, even in the case of large air gun arrays. Sadly, some political groups masquerading as environmental organizations have chosen to ignore these realities.

Bolding mine. Not only is that an asinine statement, it's ironic as hell coming from a political appointee who has attacked Roy Cooper for not opposing the EPA's Clean Power Plan. Van der Vaart is proving to be even more of a demagogue than his predecessor, and that's saying a helluva lot. I don't need to tell you that, but I do need to throw some actual science into the discussion. Due to their environment, ocean fauna rely on sound more than any other sense to survive and procreate:

Saturday News: Cause & effect version

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THINGS CANDIDATES SAY WHEN DOWN IN POLLS (Marist Poll) -- The top ten things candidates say when they know they are down in the polls are: - 7) That’s not what our polls show.
http://maristpoll.marist.edu/122-top-ten-things-candidates-say-when-they-know-they-are-down-in-the-p...

MCCRORY SAYS INTERNAL POLL SHOWS LEAD OVER COOPER; MOST SURVEYS MAKE IT A TIE (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Internal polling released Thursday by NC Gov. Pat McCrory’s re-election team shows the governor with his first sizable lead over Attorney General Roy Cooper, but cautions the margin will narrow, according to the campaign.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article55...

Utilities Commission rules stifle public input on new Duke facility

Your layman's point of view is not wanted:

Speakers will have to be sworn in. Although that’s not unheard of at some local-government meetings in which a commission, board or council must vote to open a quasi-judicial proceeding, the implications of it for the Utilities Commission hearing could be different. Testimony under oath is expected to be truthful. Unlike many local boards, testimony to the utility commission would be subject to cross-examination. A person who testified about anything other than their own opinions should be prepared to have their factual claims challenged during cross-examination.

Being placed under oath begs the question of consequences for untruthful testimony. While there’s no precedent for charging someone with offering false testimony at a hearing of this type, in theory someone who swore to tell the truth and then knowingly bore false witness could face prosecution for perjury.

While I understand the need for quasi-judicial proceedings in many cases, the Utilities Commission should not be so insulated. They allow only one voice (Executive Director of the Public Staff) to represent the people, and that representation is already filtered and edited by the time it reaches the ears of the NCUC. They're operating in a safe little bubble, and that is not conducive to public service. And that public deserves the right to speak, without the aura of legal consequences if some of their words can be disputed as "false testimony."

Friday News: The quintessential flip-flopper

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BURR SAYS HE'D VOTE FOR DEMOCRAT SANDERS OVER CRUZ (AP) -- — Republican senators are confronting an unsettling possibility: Sen. Ted Cruz, their least favorite colleague, stands within reach of becoming the party's presidential nominee and standard-bearer. Cruz has become such a pariah that one of his colleagues, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, told supporters at a campaign fundraiser for his own re-election that he would vote for liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders for president before Cruz, according to one person who attended the event. Burr did not appear to be joking, said the person, who demanded anonymity to discuss the private gathering.
http://www.journalnow.com/news/elections/national/nc-gop-senator-richard-burr-tells-supporters-he-d-...

BURR DENIES SAYING HE’D VOTE FOR BERNIE OVER CRUZ, DEMANDS RETRACTION (Raleigh News & Observer) -- U.S. Sen. Richard Burr on Thursday strongly denied a news report that said he had told people he would vote for Democrat Bernie Sanders over Republican Ted Cruz.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article55...

GOP union-busting on steroids

There's more than one way to skin a teacher's association:

The notice, sent today, came in response to a Dec. 1 letter by Sen. Ralph Hise which questioned whether the North Carolina Association of Educators was eligible for the due deduction service. NCAE had declined to cooperate with a state auditor's report earlier in 2015.

The teacher's group has tangled with lawmakers since Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2011. It has been critical of the GOP-lead legislature's funding for schools and backed Democratic candidates for office. In 2012, lawmakers returned the favor by holding an unprecedented midnight session to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of a bill that would have stopped the state from collecting NCAE dues. The group went to court and won, keeping the right over lawmakers' objections.

Divide and conquer, that's all this is about. Tear down NCAE, and you tear down the ability of teachers to collectively bargain, stand up for each other in numbers large enough to matter, and a whole host of other supportive activities. Bullies hate solidarity, because it neuters them. Which is just one more reason they shouldn't be "governing" our state.

Too many guns, not enough humanity

A sad but very familiar story:

Wake County deputies seized 46 firearms from an Apex home where a mother and daughter were shot to death, according to a search warrant released Tuesday.

Lemuel Gabriel Miller, 47, who also lived at the Humie Olive Road house, was later found dead in the 1400 block of Cooper Store Road in Harnett County of a self-inflicted gunshot, according to authorities.

Which of course is the epitome of narcissism, that if you're going to die, the women and children in your life must die as well. The man (however dead he may be) should be excoriated in public, there should be billboards showing his face and calling him a coward. If we did that regularly, maybe the aura of posthumous shame would deter future murder-suicides.

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