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Tarheel Conspiracy Theorists: Ronald Rabin

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Talk about falling off the fringe:

"The current threatened invasion of our Southern border is not spontaneous. It is funded by internationalists like Soros and Never Trump special interests and engineered by liberals who have high-jacked the Democrat Party. Have you not noticed these are well fed, well clad people? Do you think they are walking 2,300 miles? Walking at 60 miles a day (5 mph for 12 hrs) it would take about 38 days. Do not be recieved (sic). This is an organized event designed to influence voting during mid-term elections. A Nation without borders is not a sovereign nation. Get the military to the border, now."

Filed under: "That boy ain't right." Unfortunately, he's not the exception to the rule amongst General Assembly Republicans, a supermajority of the supermajority are delusional. I don't care if they "get help" or not, as long as they're no longer traveling to Raleigh to pass their unconstitutional laws...

Students come together to oppose gun violence

When the most responsible adults in the room are also the youngest:

“The sad and terrifying reality is that another school shooting like Parkland will happen if we don’t take action now," said Sawyer Taylor-Arnold. “I hope that one day students won’t have to fear going to school because of gun violence. I hope that school becomes once again a place for education and promise instead of a terrifying gamble of safety. I hope that students in the future won’t know the pain and trauma that accompanies gun violence because we will have the regulation our country desperately needs.”

Taylor-Arnold is a junior at Asheville High School. She said she wanted to attend the Summit to learn more about gun violence and hear first-hand accounts of how it affected so many young people.

I am proud of these students, but also kind of angry. I'm angry that our lack of action on this issue made them feel the need to push for change. Angry that nothing of any substance has been done to limit the insanely easy access to deadly firearms, and that every (single) common-sense approach is viciously opposed by gun fetishists and the businesses that profit from them. Here are some of their ideas:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The very latest in Republican negligence:

This is Trumpcare by the numbers; people with pre-existing conditions are losers and don't deserve good coverage.

Trump wants to define transgenderism out of existence

We're back to the whole birth certificate thing again:

The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was drafted and has been circulating since last spring. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

And just like that, another freedom is arrogantly stripped away. In other contexts, we might say a "definition" is merely a mundane classification, with no real-world consequences. But in the context of the Trump administration, where putting toddlers in concentration camps is considered "sound" policy, that definition becomes a lot more sinister. How far away from the further step: "You don't meet our definition of a human being, so human rights are no longer applicable" could we be? Not far enough, that's for sure. And we can now put to rest the presumption that right-wing think tanks are relatively harmless:

Why there are no good excuses to not vote in America

People are literally dying to exercise a right we take for granted:

An Afghan provincial government official says two people died and 22 were injured when insurgents fired several rockets and mortars at a variety of targets in the Baghlani Markazi district in an attempt to terrorize voters casting their ballots in parliamentary elections. Zabihullah Shuja, of Baghlan province, said the attack Saturday did not deter voters who continued to make their way to polling stations to cast their ballot.

In a separate attack, also in Baghlan, a bomb detonated in the capital of Pul-e-Kumri injuring one person, said Shuja. He added that Taliban insurgents also engaged in a firefight with security personnel at check posts on the main roadways.

It's been eight years since the last Parliamentary election in Afghanistan, and these voters have no way of knowing when (or if) the next election will be held. Not even polling places in Kabul are safe, but these folks are still turning out to determine who their leaders will be. In some of the provinces, that means walking for a half-day or more across brutal terrain, totally exposed to sniper fire or worse. But still they come. I'm sure if asked, NC's gun fetishists would say they need to travel "in force," 2-3 trucks of well-armed heroes to protect them. But then they would be drone bait, wouldn't they? You probably get the message, but we're not done yet:

News deserts are expanding while democracy hangs in the balance

Making informed decisions begins with accurate information:

More than one in five papers has closed over the past decade and a half, leaving thousands of our communities at risk of becoming news deserts. Half of the 3,143 counties in the country now have only one newspaper, usually a small weekly, attempting to cover its various communities. Almost 200 counties in the country have no newspaper at all. The people with the least access to local news are often the most vulnerable – the poorest, least educated and most isolated.

Before we talk about Corporate media issues, we need to look at the term "incorporated." When communities grow to the point they decide to be self-regulated, to provide services not readily available from county governments, they incorporate into a distinct municipal entity. That requires they begin exercising authority over citizens within those boundaries, and now we come to the part where democracy is in jeopardy. Because authority without responsibility and accountability is tyranny, by any other name. The Fourth Estate is a critical element in a democracy, because it provides a neutral assessment (it's supposed to, anyway) of the performance of elected representatives. And like many issues that plague our society, the poor and under-educated are the most at-risk of losing that critical information:

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