scharrison's blog

Thanks to Trump DOJ, Supreme Court punts transgender case

No relief for Gavin anytime soon:

The justices said Monday they have opted not to decide whether federal anti-discrimination law gives high school senior Gavin Grimm the right to use the boys' bathroom in his Virginia school. The case had been scheduled for argument in late March. Instead, a lower court in Virginia will be tasked with evaluating the federal law known as title IX and the extent to which it applies to transgender students.

The high court action follows the Trump administration's recent decision to withdraw a directive issued during Barack Obama's presidency that advised schools to allow students to use the bathroom of their chosen gender, not biological birth. The administration action triggered legal wrangling that ended with Monday's order.

I have a feeling the Trump administration is going to leave a lot of people swinging in the wind, with no hope of any sort of protections.

Fouling the waters: Shellfish harvest put on hold by stormwater runoff

Fecal coliform bacteria levels are off the charts:

High levels of fecal bacteria have prompted state environmental officials to close some coastal and inland waters to harvesting oysters, clams and mussels. The 2,450 acres stretching across eight counties will be off-limits until further notice, state environmental officials announced.

The bacteria comes from human and animal waste that enters the stormwater, which then flows into the harvest areas. Over the past several years, above average rainfall along the coast has washed that waste into the water. The cumulative effects of that runoff emerged in recent testing that showed bacterial levels have exceeded safe levels.

This is what happens when you ignore or downplay irresponsible behavior in favor of "economic gains," or whatever the rhetorical twist of the day is. Human waste is bad enough, but when you've got ten million factory hogs and hundreds of millions of chickens and turkeys, it's no wonder the coast is drowning in shit. And of course, spraying that liquefied mess all over the surface of plowed farmland just helps it on its way downstream when the rains come. But let's not get too involved in their business, because freedom. Or something.

Environmental Injustice: Public comment stifled on Richmond County Enviva project

Tearing down the forests is apparently not enough, now they're muzzling the opposition:

A press conference will be held by The Concerned Citizens of Richmond County, a local citizen engagement group, to voice concerns about the health and environmental concerns of locating an Enviva wood pellet facility in this predominantly black community. Concerned residents have on multiple occasions attempted to address the county with their concerns, and have been repeatedly denied. On March 7th, the Richmond County Commissioners will hold their monthly meeting, and representatives from Enviva will appear to speak on the agenda. The Concerned Citizens of Richmond County have once again been denied the opportunity to speak during the public comment section.

Concerned citizens fear this facility will create harmful particulate matter and pollutants, will create constant noise and disrupt their quality of life, and clog up roads with dangerous truck traffic. The County has offered Enviva $1.6 million in direct cash incentives and property tax breaks of up to 85%, which residents oppose as a wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

Press conference is this Tuesday (3/7), and there will be a rally March 25th. Please spread the word about both, because this issue touches on both deforestation and environmental justice, not to mention the stifling of public comment. The Richmond County Commissioners have set up pretty zany rules about what you can say and when:

Friday feel-good: Tarheels give back via Peace Corps

It ain't all Ivory Tower Intellectualism:

For the third year in a row, UNC-Chapel Hill has moved up in the rankings of the Peace Corps’ Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list. UNC-Chapel Hill ranks No. 7 among large schools, up from No. 12 last year.

According to the Peace Corps, 51 Tar Heels volunteered around the world in 2016. Since the Peace Corps’ founding in 1961, nearly 1,300 Carolina alumni have served as volunteers overseas.

Just a quick anecdote: In my travels as a US Army soldier during the latter years of the Cold War, I came in contact with Peace Corps folks quite often. We had some fairly intense debates about *how* to achieve peaceful situations worldwide, but the truth is, the work they did (and do) far surpasses what military training and intervention are capable of. Why? Because conflict is almost always caused by the struggle to survive, the desperate need for life's essentials, like food, potable water, shelter, security, etc. If you can help people secure these things with their own two hands, conflict becomes far less likely. It sounds simplistic, but it is the truth, and the Peace Corps has accomplished so much in the "avoided conflict" category it's impossible to quantify. That's Meagan Meekins pictured above, and if you see her on campus, don't run. She's the UNC-CH Peace Corps recruiter, and she can help you figure out where you want to go and what you want to do.

Exporting bigotry: NC man charged in gay-bashing incident in Key West

Because we don't already have a bad enough reputation:

Kevin Seymour and Kevin Price told police that about 1 a.m. on Feb. 23, they were riding bicycles in the 700 block of Duval when they saw a man swerving on a rented scooter. Seymour says he shouted to warn the scooter rider, identified by police as Davis, that he almost hit a car. Davis yelled, “You guys are a couple of fags,” “I bet you faggots voted for that bitch Hillary” and “You live in Trump country now,” police say.

When Seymour threatened to call police, Davis allegedly told him, “If you do that, I’ll cut you up.” At one point, the scooter rider struck the rear tire of Seymour’s bike, knocking him to the ground. Seymour and Price got the scooter tag number before he fled. The scooter was rented from A and M Rentals. It was found parked near the Southernmost Point.

Dude, you're on fricking vacation. Leave the hate at home, for God's sake. I fear "Florida Man" may end up playing second fiddle to "North Carolina Man" in the national "Holy shit what did he do now?" competition...

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