scharrison's blog

NC's SBI criticized as far away as Europe

Not the kind of reputation you want to build:

Marilyn Miller, a professor of forensic science at Virginia Commonwealth University, said that forensic scientists outside of North Carolina have long been concerned about examinations and testimony offered by Deaver and his protégés. But they feel powerless to do anything.

Stuart James, one of the world's foremost experts at analyzing bloodstain patterns at crime scenes, was hired by Turner's lawyers to examine the evidence before the trial. Since Turner's acquittal, James has shown the video of the SBI experiments in workshops and conferences in the United States and Europe. Every colleague deemed the work unscientific, James said.

"They thought it was a bunch of malarkey," James said. "They were aghast at it."

New EPA mercury rules put the squeeze on Titan Cement

This news just made my week:

While the regulations issued Monday are slightly less stringent than the standards first proposed in 2009, they are much lower than the 263 pounds of annual mercury emissions Titan would be permitted to release under existing regulations.

According to the final rules, Titan's plant will only be allowed to release 21 pounds of mercury per million tons of clinker, the cooked stone product used to make cement. The plant proposed for Castle Hayne is expected to produce 2.19 million tons of clinker per year, which means the mercury limit will be roughly 46 pounds each year.


NCCN Alert: public input on Falls Lake cleanup

Just received this via e-mail:

Falls Lake, a water supply for over 400,000 people and a popular lake for fishing and boating, suffers from extreme nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. A few parts of the lake are relatively healthy, but sections of the upper lake violate water quality standards as much as 80% of the time.

The Environmental Management Commission (EMC) is accepting public input (through this week) on proposed rules to clean up the lake. Environmental groups generally support the rules, but are also proposing some improvements to them.

Go here to send your own message to the Commission.

Hyperlocal newsgathering conflicts

Via Laura Leslie's Twitter feed:

Patch, or “Poach,” as someone here at Lost Remote once called it, is the network of identical hyperlocal sites that AOL is rolling out at a reported cost of well over $50 million this year.

In fact, the sites are parachuting down so fast they can’t even keep up with the list of “coming” sites on the Patch homepage; the town where we spotted the lovelies today isn’t even on the list yet, but they are advertising for writers on Craigslist.

Well, at least they aren't shaving their heads yet...

Republican Jeff Hyde's "Rafflegate"

Need some money for your campaign? Run your own lottery:

The state Democratic Party has asked the N.C. Board of Elections to investigate state senate candidate Jeff Hyde’s campaign finances, alleging the Republican did not properly account for money earned through a fundraising raffle.

Specifically, the party claims the raffle’s winner was not shown as having purchased a ticket on campaign disclosure forms. And the winner did not claim her $5,000, according to the complaint, potentially making it an illegally large campaign contribution.
Hyde is running against Don Vaughan, a first-term Democrat.

Chamber of Commerce idiocy

Mt. Airy, where two e-mails are proof of a startling trend:

At a time when tourism in Mount Airy is at an all-time high, a recent commercial starring Andy Griffith supporting President Barack Obama’s health-care plan may have an effect on tourism.

In July, 11,300 visitors came through the Mount Airy Visitors Center, a number which was up from July of last year when 8,900 tourists visited the area. However, Betty Ann Collins, president of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, said she has gotten at least two e-mails from people canceling any future plans to visit Mount Airy because of the commercial.

Seldom do news stories make me actually bark in laughter. Thanks.

Burr uses Wynn confirmation to attack Democrats

Embarassing himself in the process:

North Carolina elected officials cheered the confirmation to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals of Judge Jim Wynn.

In his statement, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, noted that under President George W. Bush, Democrats had blocked confirmation of nominees to the 4th Circuit.

"After the treatment some of these nominees were subjected to, it is a wonder that others are still willing to step forward to put themselves through the nominations process," Burr said.

Judge Wynn (you know, the guy you're supposed to be talking about) was originally blocked by Republican Jesse Helms, you dummy.

Bacteria forces closure of Lake Wheeler

Here are the basics of the story:

Lake Wheeler beach has been closed to recreational swimming due to elevated levels of bacteria, Wake County officials said today. Levels of enterococci bacteria exceeded Environmental Protection Agency standards, the county's environmental services department said.

But what you're not getting is the story behind the story: the causes and possible solutions to the problem.

Wynn confirmed; Diaz still in holding pattern

A promotion eleven years in the making:

After months of his nomination's languishing on the U.S. Senate calendar, Judge James A. Wynn Jr. of Raleigh was confirmed late Thursday to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a position for which he was first nominated in 1999.

Wynn, 56, was confirmed as part of a procedural move known as "unanimous consent," in which a motion proposed on the Senate floor passes barring an objection by another senator.

He was first nominated for higher court under President Bill Clinton, but he was blocked by Sen. Jesse Helms.

NC loses court battle over air quality

A victory for less-clean smokestacks:

The act also directed state agencies to “use all available resources and means, including ... litigation to make other states and entities, including the Tennessee Valley Authority,” achieve comparable reductions in harmful emissions.

U.S. District Court Judge Lacy Thornburg, a North Carolinian, last year ruled in the state’s favor. But a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously overruled Thornburg last week.

(The three judges hail from Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina, underscoring the fact that North Carolina remains under-represented on this court as nominees James Wynn and Albert Diaz are stalled during their U.S. Senate confirmation proceedings.)


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