scharrison's blog

Group with ties to Art Pope pushes anti-teacher propaganda

State Policy Network pens instruction manual for discrediting teacher strikes:

The new rightwing strategy to discredit the strikes that have erupted in protest against cuts in education funding and poor teacher pay is contained in a three-page document obtained by the Guardian. Titled “How to talk about teacher strikes”, it provides a “dos and don’ts” manual for how to smear the strikers.

Top of the list of talking points is the claim that “teacher strikes hurt kids and low-income families”. It advises anti-union campaigners to argue that “it’s unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children.”

I have to give credit upfront to the NCAE and all of our teachers who have washed over the NC Capitol grounds with a sea of red for several years now. It would not surprise me if Civitas was a driving force behind this propaganda manual, because they've been trying to attack the Moral Mondays movement with whatever tools they can, up to and including publishing the names and photos of those who dared to challenge Republican leadership. And it also comes as no surprise that money (tax cuts for the wealthy) is at the core of this devious attack on teachers:

Reporter attacks Democrats for attacking Legislative report

Somebody apparently pushed the wrong buttons:

Democrats charge racism, mischaracterize school report: The state Democratic Party said Wednesday that a new report from an off-session study committee will "break up North Carolina’s county-wide school districts and re-segregate North Carolina’s public schools." It will not.

In fact, the report doesn't recommend any legislation. It says "any future legislation considered by the General Assembly to create a procedure by which citizens may initiate the breakup of large (school systems) will require additional study.” The report also recommends that any division efforts "take care to ensure equality."

I don't usually include headlines when grabbing quotes, but in this case it was necessary to demonstrate the (angry) flavor of the article. Not sure where the animus comes from, but I can guess. Some efforts by political operatives and over-zealous advocates to influence news stories can cross the line, into the area of bullying and harassment. I've seen reporters complain about this on more than one occasion, and those complaints are justified. Let them do their jobs. But even if that is the case, that "irritation" should not bleed into the actual reporting. And as far as that last sentence, I've got three words for this reporter: "Separate But Equal." That was the justification used by Segregationists for decades for keeping black children in their own poorly-funded schools. As to the report itself, which generated this apparent bad blood, it most certainly does give lawmakers a roadmap for re-segregating some of NC's schools:

SCSJ maps the school-to-prison pipeline

Thousands of teens are caught in this downward whirlpool every year:

As in previous years, in 2016-17, black students were overrepresented in every category of exclusionary discipline. Statewide, black students were 4.3 times more likely to be given a short-term suspension than their white classmates, and 3.4 times more likely to be given a long-term suspension. In 17 school districts, the likelihood that black students would be given a short-term suspension as compared to their white peers was even higher than the statewide average.

Let those numbers sink in, especially considering how widespread this problem is. That fact undercuts the "default" conservative claim that this is a gang problem, and not a systemic racism issue. Every step of the way, from elementary school through whatever grade of high school they can climb up to, and then with their first brush with the court system, black males are dealt with as if they were a public health threat, while their white counterparts are given "second chances" over and over (and over) again. If you haven't witnessed this inequality, you haven't been looking. I can't say it better than this:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

I was wondering about this just last night:

Trump voters have been pretty resilient over his ham-handed leadership since he took office. By "resilient" I mean "blind," of course. Which proves to me they knew ahead of time he would be a disaster, but voted for him anyway because they hoped he would punish the people they don't like. And when your hatred runs that deep, even if you get punished some yourself, it might still seem worth it.

Tariffs on Canadian lumber exacerbate affordable housing crisis

Unnecessary costs like this add up quickly:

The Outer Banks Homebuilders Association is urging its members to contact members of Congress to urge repeal of the Trump Administration’s tariffs on Canadian soft lumber imports. Rising lumber prices have already increased the average price of a single-family home by $6,388 since January of last year, according to the OBHBA and the National Association of Homebuilders. Some of the increases are due to tariffs of more than 20 percent on Canadian softwood lumber shipments into the U.S.

The NAHB points out that U.S. domestic production of softwood lumber is insufficient to meet the demand for construction of houses. According to the NAHB, in 2016, the U.S. consumed 47.1 billion board feet of softwood lumber but domestic producers were only able to supply 32.8 billion, creating a shortfall of over 14 billion.

As with many (even moderately) complex issues, Trump is simply not intelligent enough to grasp the ramifications of his actions. If these tariffs are not removed, there will be a push, probably successfully, to relax U.S. regulations on domestic timber culling. Here in the Southeast, we're already seeing the scourge of the wood pellet industry. Is Europe placing tariffs on that? Oh no, they want us to clear-cut our forests so they won't have to touch theirs. Slapping a tariff on Canadian lumber makes absolutely no sense, no matter which way you look at it.

Misleading and disingenuous: Smithfield's lawyers push the boundaries in hog nuisance lawsuit

And NC State (knowingly or not) is complicit in the deception:

Anderson, representing Smithfield, had attempted to liken Kinlaw’s waste management system — flushing the barns with wastewater and emptying the manure and urine into open lagoons to be sprayed hundreds of feet in the air onto fields — to that at a research farm operated by NC State University off Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh. Just three miles from the courthouse, Anderson argued, and yet people in downtown smelled nothing.

However, Rogers had visited that research farm as well, and conducted studies there. The only similarity is that both facilities are farms. The NC State faciliy has 1,000 hogs; Kinlaw has nearly 15,000. The NCSU farm uses clean water to flush the barns, sharply reducing the odors. The university farm, unlike Kinlaw, also removes solid particles that go into the lagoon, also reducing the odor, and has a different treatment system. “It’s not a fair comparison,” Rogers said.

Of course it's not a fair comparison. It's like apples and orange Crayons, only eating the Crayons probably wouldn't ruin your life or tank your property values. And while I realize this is civil court, where there's more leeway for rhetorical ad-hominem attacks, this particular dog-whistle should have been snatched out of their hands by the judge:

UNC Wilmington solves mystery of GenX in rainfall

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Add a little water and presto, you get a toxic downpour:

UNCW also tested rainwater samples to determine if GenX showed up there. When it did, they alerted the state and then tried to figure out where it was coming from. Ultimately, they determined that while GenX itself isn’t being spread through the air, a chemical that rapidly turns into GenX when mixed with water likely is coming from Chemours’ stacks.

Pam Seaton, the chair of UNCW’s department of chemistry and biochemistry, said, “The precusor to GenX at Chemours is what’s called an acid fluoride, and when it touches water it turns into GenX. What they emit, apparently, through the stacks at Chemours is the acid fluoride. ... We could actually see within minutes the precursor being converted to GenX, which then is wherever the rain takes it.”

I'd be willing to bet my last dollar that Chemours' chemists were well aware something like this would happen to those emissions, and I would also bet that installing some form of scrubbers could greatly reduce that effect. But that costs money, and you know what that means. Unless they are forced to install it, it ain't happening. GenX is also embedding itself into river bottom sediment, which means it will be seeping into the water for a long time even after all discharges have stopped:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy's self-regulating "research" is flawed

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Extracted from the 2017 4th quarter Executive Summary of the Allen Steam Station:

An update to the 2016 human health and ecological risk assessment was conducted. There is no evidence of unacceptable risk to humans and wildlife at Allen attributed to CCR constituent migration in groundwater from the ash basins. The only evidence of potential unacceptable human related risks estimated in the 2016 risk assessment was under the hypothetical subsistence fisherman scenario due to concentrations of cobalt in fish tissue. This risk assessment update supports that the fisher risks were overestimated based on conservative exposure (it is unlikely subsistence fishermen exist in the area) and modeled fish tissue uptake assumptions (modeled concentrations likely exceed actual fish tissue concentrations if measured), supporting a risk classification of “Low” based upon groundwater related considerations.

This is not research, it's rhetoric, carefully crafted to leave the reader confident there's nothing to worry about. The "cobalt in fish" thing is simply a red herring, if you'll pardon my use of a salt water species to drive home a point. If they reported they'd found nothing at all, people wouldn't believe them. So we get cobalt in fish, that nobody's going to eat anyway. Just an aside: Cobalt concentrations detected in at least three common species have been proven to reduce appetite, subsequently stunting growth in the fish affected. The truth is, there are several other toxins even worse than cobalt leaking from the Allen plant:

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