scharrison's blog

Nantahala old-growth trees in jeopardy of being cut down

Some people can't see the individual trees for the forest:

The U.S. Forest Service plans to harvest the majority of trees at 16 sites in Nantahala National Forest beginning next year as part of its Southside Project.

Conservation organizations argue the trees at several of these sites represent exceptionally older and rarer growth than the Forest Service has recognized and are calling for the project to be withdrawn or revised after the Forest Service completes the revision of its land management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests in Western North Carolina, a draft of which is expected later this year.

Before you jump to any conclusions, this is one of those issues where there might not actually be a "bad guy" to oppose. Forests are more than just a collection of trees, they are ecosystems, supporting life in various forms. And in order to adapt to climate change, the types of trees growing there might need to change, as well. All that being said, a tree that has survived for 200 years should be recognized and preserved:

Trump's tax giveaway for the wealthy is squeezing poor college students

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Whether it's a flaw or a feature, it needs to be fixed asap:

A little-noticed provision in President Trump’s sprawling new tax law is treating middle- and low-income college students as if they are trust-fund babies, taxing sizable financial aid packages at a rate first established 33 years ago to prevent wealthy parents from funneling money to their children to lower their tax burdens.

Students with large financial aid packages are finding their nontuition assistance for items such as room and board taxed by as much as 37 percent, even if their family income tax rates are much lower.

Do the math. A poor kid receiving $11,000 a year for room and board is coughing up $4,000 of that in taxes. If that's "winning" I'd hate to see what happens when we start losing. This should not have come as such a surprise to lawmakers, because they've already been raked over the coals for over-taxing survivor benefits for Gold Star families:

Asshole of the Week: Tom Fetzer

When misogyny is so ingrained you don't even realize it:

“Let me just cut to the chase young ladies, there are only two things in this world you should borrow money for. Your continuing education and a house. Pay cash for everything else because it’s a depreciating asset and you will end up owing more than it is worth. And that is the road to ruin. Those are the parents clapping. Young men, I will add one thing to the list for which you may borrow money. A diamond ring. Because it will appreciate, and so will she.”

Young ladies? Wait, before I talk about that: Once those "young men" bestow a diamond ring on the finger of their prospective soul-mate, that rock is gone. Whether it "appreciates" or not (not, of course), it's hers, dude. Okay, back to the...Young ladies? They're not fricking debutantes being feted (not really sure what that means), they're Anthropologists, Marine Biologists, Chemists, Psychologists, and a whole slew of other professional occupations. This is one of the most important days of their lives, and the last thing they need is some navel-gazing sexist oxygen thief trying to hijack them back to the 1950's. Also, the next time someone from Raleigh picks on someone from Charlotte over Pat McCrory, just start calling them Fetzer. "Hey, Fetzer, is that a clip-on tie?" Or something along those lines. Okay, I'm going to let a woman talk now:

NC probation officer also leader of Confederate group

I wonder how many African-Americans he's put back in jail?

During the throes of the fight over the Silent Sam Confederate monument at UNC, the North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans was on the front lines, defending the statue of a symbol of proud southern heritage. The division's commander, Kevin Stone, was a vocal defender.

Now, state officials are confirming to ABC11 that Stone is also a probation officer assigned to Chatham County.

Probation officers exercise a lot of discretion in their duties. They "check up" on their charges when they see fit, and can execute a search of the premises without a warrant or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. Many who are convicted of a crime and receive no jail time in the sentence, end up serving time for a probation violation. With all that in mind, please note the upside-down "V" on Stone's quasi-uniform. That's the Lambda "Shield Wall" symbol of a White Supremacist group:

New report highlights the economic benefits of clean energy

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And rural areas are getting a large slice of that pie:

A new report shows the economic impact of more than a decade of clean energy investment in the state. The study from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association finds clean energy development projects generated more than $28.2 billion dollars statewide since 2007.

Clean energy projects can be a boon to rural, low-income counties. The report finds rural Eastern counties have benefitted the most. Duplin and Robeson counties lead the state with more than $650 million dollars of clean energy investment apiece.

In place of my normal long-winded spiel, I'll quote myself from almost four years ago:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

What the GOP wanted all along:

Widening the gap between the Two Americas.

Say it ain't so, Joe: Biden's inclusion of Nat Gas in energy platform under fire

Dipping his toes into tainted waters:

The hair-trigger criticism of Biden's climate plan, which has yet to be released, underscores the tension emerging between the left and centrist wings of the Democratic Party over the climate issue.

The report, from Reuters, said Biden will seek to rejoin the Paris climate accord and reinstall emissions-reducing regulations that President Trump is trying to throw out. But Biden would also, according to the report, be “supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology" in an effort to buffer negative impact on working-class folks.

Dog save us from politicians who don't pay attention to what's going on around them. Natural gas doesn't just appear magically, it's fracked out of the ground, contaminating millions of gallons of drinking water in the process. And during the transportation of gas from the well site to the power plant, fugitive emissions of methane contribute greatly to the atmospheric greenhouse effect. As far as carbon capture is concerned, that might as well be a unicorn itself. The amount of money it would take to develop the technology, not just for capture but also for sequestration, would be much better spent on genuine renewables. Also, I'm not sure Biden understands how this message will be digested:

Burr vs. Trump Jr: Subpoena ignites a firestorm in the GOP

Russiagate may be far from over:

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s decision to subpoena Donald Trump Jr. has ignited an internal Republican firefight over the fate of the committee’s Russia probe, as the panel’s GOP chairman showed no signs of backing down despite fierce criticism from many of his colleagues that it was time to move on.

Much of the backlash against the decision by Chairman Richard Burr (N.C.) to subpoena President Trump’s eldest son came from GOP senators who are up for reelection next year and from those closely aligned with the president. The outrage was partially fueled by Trump Jr. and his own allies.

Much like his father, Trump Jr is simply not clever enough to understand the pros and cons. He could put this issue to bed pretty quickly by showing up and giving a few hours of testimony, but (just like dad) he's too arrogant to do that. And the end result is more focus on the Russia meeting, not less. Say what you will about Richard Burr, he's wholly invested in the reputation of the Intel Committee, and he's not going to leave any questions unanswered. Here's some whining from the peanut gallery:

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