Daily dose: You don't have Ebola, part deux

Fear of Ebola Closes Schools and Shapes Politics (New York Times) -- In the month since a Liberian man infected with Ebola traveled to Dallas, where he later died, the nation has marinated in a murky soup of understandable concern, wild misinformation, political opportunism and garden-variety panic. Within the escalating debate over how to manage potential threats to public health — muddled by what is widely viewed as a bungled effort by government officials and the Dallas hospital that managed the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States — the line between vigilance and hysteria can be as blurry as the edges of a watercolor painting. … “If this was one incidence where people thought the government wasn’t doing what the government was supposed to do, it would be much less of a reaction than we see now, where there’s this long list of the government being one step behind, whether it’s the border, the IRS, the Secret Service,” Senator Roy D. Blunt, Republican of Missouri, said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Now this health concern is more real than it would be if there wasn’t a sense that the government is just not being managed in a way that people would want it to be managed.” With fear riding high, Democrats, particularly those running for office, have supported a travel ban. “Although stopping the spread of this virus overseas will require a large, coordinated effort with the international community,” said Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, a Democrat in a tight race, “a temporary travel ban is a prudent step the president can take to protect the American people.”

Hagan keeps moderate, anti-Tillis messages (AP) — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan wrapped up another gathering at a local Democratic Party office with handshakes, hugs and photos following a stump speech designed to energize the faithful about her re-election campaign. The recent High Point event was one of her many low-key appearances at party campaign staging areas over several months to highlight her accomplishments and contrast them with those of Republican challenger Thom Tillis. Hagan has repeatedly accused Tillis as state House speaker of cutting income tax rates to benefit the wealthy, slashing public education funding and refusing to expand Medicaid to the working poor. That's more than enough for many Democrats to stand behind her. "I like what she stands for, and I don't follow his line of thinking at all," Dixie Pugh, 77, said at the High Point event. The appearances reflect the disciplined campaign that Hagan has run. She's kept to her bet that Tillis' General Assembly ties and its rightward turn will be a key winning theme in what is the nation's most expensive Senate race.

A quick look at Kay Hagan, NC Senate candidate (AP) -- FULL NAME: Janet Kay Ruthven Hagan. AGE: 61. Born May 26, 1953, in Shelby.

Hagan picking up campaigning in NC Senate race (AP) — U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is picking up the pace on her retail politics in the final two weeks of her re-election campaign.

Hotly contested NC Senate race fuels 'jaw-dropping' spending (Al Jazeera America) -- Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and her Republican rival, state legislature speaker Thom Tillis, were three-quarters of the way through their Oct. 7 debate when Tillis got noticeably rattled. For forty minutes, the candidates had parried moderator George Stephanopoulos’ questions from their main attack positions: Hagan telling voters that Tillis presided over a hard-right legislature that upended decades of moderate compromise; Tillis diligently associating Hagan with President Obama. Both knew party bosses and major donors were watching, considering whether to sink more advertising dollars into the race — which has already seen$37 million in outside spending, more than any other congressional contest this year — or allocate those resources elsewhere in the national fight for control of the U.S. Senate. Now the candidates had a chance to address each other directly. Hagan asked Tillis why he had opposed legislation aimed at closing a gender pay gap in which North Carolina women earn about 82 cents on the dollar compared with men. It seemed like a question the challenger would be prepared for, but Tillis took it like a haymaker.

Why gay marriage never became a midterm issue (Washington Times) -- In a key midterm election year, an unexpected Supreme Court decision on a divisive political issue would usually send shockwaves. But when the Supreme Court opted recently to let stand rulings allowing gay marriage in five states, paving the way for gay marriage in many others, it hardly registered on the campaign trail. In North Carolina, an important battleground state in the fight for a Senate majority, the court’s decision has already had a major impact. A federal circuit judge decided last week that same-sex marriages in North Carolina could move forward despite an ongoing lawsuit over the state’s Amendment One ballot measure that banned such marriages. Yet neither Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan nor Republican Thom Tillis did much with the issue. Instead, in a recent debate, Hagan lumped in Amendment One with other examples of Tillis’ record in the statehouse as House speaker.

Ebola, Islamic State shift dynamics for Hagan, Tillis in N.C. (Washington Post) -- Thom Tillis sent a deep sigh and a shudder rolling through the crowd of Republican activists with just one word: ­“Ebola.” “Can we all agree that it would make sense temporarily to have a travel ban?” the Republican Senate candidate asked about 100 supporters gathered Saturday afternoon at the local GOP headquarters in Guilford County. The crowd burst into hearty applause. The specter of Ebola in the United States, on the heels of stories about the violent militants of the Islamic State, has made security a late-breaking wild-card issue in North Carolina’s Senate race.

Hagan defends call for travel ban (Charlotte Observer) -- Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan on Sunday defended her call for a ban on travel from countries affected by the Ebola epidemic and denied that it represented a change of position.

Hagan discusses Ebola and potential travel ban (WCNC-TV) -- The race for North Carolina's U.S. Senate seat continues to heat up and Sunday Sen. Kay Hagan was in Charlotte on the first day of her "N.C. First" tour across the state. During her event she spoke about education and fighting for teachers in our state, but after she was done the talk with the media turned to the Ebola crisis. "We need to have a temporary travel ban on non-U.S. citizens coming from the affected countries in West Africa," Hagan said. She says she's always viewed a travel ban as a part of broader tactics to combat an Ebola outbreak, even though her opponent, Speaker Thom Tillis has said Hagan just recently switched her position. "No I didn't, I didn't," Hagan said. "If you listen to the whole discussion, it was part of an overall strategy."

Why Democrats are sounding like Republicans on Ebola (Washington Post) -- Democrats are beginning to sound more like Republicans when they talk about Ebola. And Republicans are moving into overdrive with their criticism of the government's handling of the deadly virus.

Hagan at NC State today (The Technician) – Sen. Kay Hagan, incumbent Democratic candidate, will be visiting NC State today at 3 p.m. for an education press conference. The conference is closed to the public, but about 50 people who were personally invited by Hagan’s campaign will be allowed to attend the event. In addition to Hagan, two students will speak at the event. Hagan will then hold a Q&A with the press. Hagan will discuss education during the conference. The event is part of her education tour across the state and she will be speaking at other schools in the UNC-System later this week.

NC appeals court hopefuls look for voters on tour (AP) -- Candidates for appellate courts often have trouble getting voters interested in their races. So current and former judges on the statewide ballot are traveling around North Carolina to talk about their races and the judicial system.

UNC student launches website to forecast Senate elections (Daily Tar Heel) -- North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race remains a virtual tossup between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis — but UNC junior Noah Lieberman believes he has developed a way to predict the outcome. Lieberman, an applied math and political science double major, has developed a statistical model to forecast the outcome of the most tightly contested Senate elections. Using polling data, he estimates each state’s voting tendencies, called fundamentals, to predict election outcomes. The probabilities in each state are then used to predict the final political makeup of the Senate. The model launched online this fall at pollinglab.com.

Aiken faces uphill fight against Ellmers (Fayetteville Observer) -- As Rep. Renee Ellmers looks to return to Congress for a third term, she faces a challenger with celebrity status. Clay Aiken, a well-known entertainer and Cary Democrat, has brought a national spotlight to the race for U.S. House District 2, but political analysts say he faces an uphill battle in the solidly Republican district, which touches Alamance, Chatham, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Moore, Randolph and Wake counties. The Democratic challenger made a splash in February when he initially entered the race and in an extremely close primary with former Secretary of State Keith Crisco, drawing national media attention. But since then, the neck-and-neck Senate race between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and state Speaker of the House Thom Tillis has taken most of the political attention in the state and most of the advertising airtime.

Ellmers brings incumbent advantages against ‘Idol’ star (Raleigh News & Observer) -- US Rep. Renee Ellmers has staff connections and experience to show as she runs for a third term, facing a political newcomer with a household name from “American Idol.”

N.C. House candidates differ on film incentives (Wilmington Star-News) -- The two men vying for N.C.'s 16th District seat say they're focused on being a voice for the coast.

Intensity Gap: Tar Heel at center of nation’s top anti-abortion PAC (The New Yorker) -- Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a small but savvy group that has emerged as a leading combatant in the abortion wars. For politicians seeking to limit abortion, Dannenfelser is a valuable link to the grass roots of pro-life activism—a committed activist who understands the art of messaging. … Dannenfelser didn’t start out pro-life: she grew up in Greenville, North Carolina, in a devout Episcopalian family that was conservative but pro-choice. In college at Duke, she was a pro-choice leader of the College Republicans. After graduating, she fell in with a crowd of Catholic intellectuals who converted her first to the pro-life cause and, eventually, to Catholicism; like many converts, she found that her new faith was stronger than her old one. (Although the S.B.A. List is strictly focused on abortion, Dannenfelser personally believes in a “culture of life,” the Catholic teaching that also opposes contraception, euthanasia, and the death penalty.) She has a knack for shifting, almost imperceptibly, between passionate paeans to human life and dispassionate analyses of political realities, often delivered with a crooked smile.

Both parties poured big money into early voting. Who’s got the edge? (Washington Post) -- Higher-than-expected turnout suggests the millions of dollars invested in pre-Election Day turnout efforts are paying off.

Democrats’ New Senate Move: Backing Long Shots (Wall Street Journal) -- Democrats, worried as polls show their chances of retaining control of the Senate dwindling, are plowing money into long-shot races in unexpected states.

Wilmington Cemetery Tells Tale of a North Carolina Epidemic (N.C. Health News) -- Wilmington’s Oakdale Cemetery holds hundreds of graves from an Ebola-like epidemic that swept the city in 1862.

NAACP to discuss NC's lack of Medicaid expansion (AP) -- The state NAACP is holding a funeral procession to represent people that it says have suffered because of North Carolina's refusal to expand Medicaid.

Charlotte, other police collect cellphone info (AP) — Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and three other agencies across North Carolina use equipment that collects information from cellphones to fight crime, but the devices also collect information from innocent people.

Hearing scheduled on NC homeowners insurance rates (AP) -- North Carolina's insurance commissioner is holding a hearing on a request from companies that want to increase homeowner insurance prices by an average of more than 25 percent in January.

Asheville police officers file petition calling for chief’s resignation (Carolina Public Press) -- Forty-four officers signed the petition, which outlined why the department’s leadership is not working and how it’s creating a public safety hazard.

Groups protest soring at NC State Fair (WRAL-TV) -- One of the most popular events at the State Fair came under scrutiny Saturday after one group expressed concerns for the welfare of the animals in the Tennessee Walking Horse Show.

Online app for Tennessee lawmakers wins award (AP) -- An online application for Tennessee lawmakers has won an award from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

THE GREAT PUMPKIN: State Fair crowds fall for giants (Raleigh News & Observer) -- NC State Fair crowds go crazy for the new pumpkin king, a 1,404.5-pound giant who took his place in the NC record books last week.

More wedding woes at Whalehead (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) — An angry bride is the latest of big wedding troubles for Whalehead in Historic Corolla.

Richard Petty Motorsports moving operations (AP) -- Richard Petty Motorsports is moving its race operations to another North Carolina location.

Time to Escape a Home Fire? 2 Minutes, Says Red Cross (Public News Service) -- More than 2,300 people died and nearly 13,000 were injured in home fires across the nation in 2012, according to the National Fire Protection Association. This month the American Red Cross is kicking off a national campaign to reduce deaths and injuries from house fires.

Study finds opportunities, challenges for furniture industy (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The domestic home furnishings industry is at a turning point in terms of its global competitiveness, according to a research study timed for release today.

If state legislature doesn't approve driver's ed money, schools will pay (Wilmington Star-News) -- School districts are struggling to figure out how they will continue to fund the driver's education program

NC Research Campus seeks faster growth after slow start (Charlotte Observer) -- Research has been slow to get off the ground, campus officials acknowledge. The recession hampered growth and dashed plans by some big corporations such as PepsiCo to open labs.

Bus-tracker: GPS shows school staff precise information (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Want to know where your child’s bus is?

Troopers focusing on safety (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Getting a child ready for school in the morning is tough enough without having the added stress of wondering if an impatient driver will pass the bus or speed through a school zone.

Wake County driver shortage affecting school bus service (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A shortage of more than 60 full-time Wake County school bus drivers caused by low pay and bad student bus behavior is leading to delays getting students to and from school each day.

Students work with solar power (Hendersonville Times-News) -- Students in Kathleen Abraham’s freshman Earth Environmental Science class each had methods they believed would make their passive solar model homes absorb and retain the most heat.

Guilford school board election poses polar-opposite questions (Greensboro News & Record) -- Three incumbents are running unopposed, leaving two of the 11 seats up for grabs.

19-year-old NC A&T student killed at party (AP) — Authorities say a 19-year-old student at North Carolina A&T State University has been killed after a fight at a party.

Defensive Skvarla complains about coal-ash pond editorial (Fayetteville Observer column) -- At this point, injecting knowledge and reason into your baseless attacks on the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources may seem quixotic at best. But in order to defend the experts at DENR and science itself, I must respond to your editorial, "Another miss-step in coal ash clean-up effort." First, settling ponds work by allowing coal ash to settle to the bottom of the pond. When the discharge permit limits are calculated, they are established to protect water quality by allowing only a certain amount of pollutants to be released by operational ponds.

DENR serves polluters, not public (Fayetteville Observer column) -- The recent attack on The Fayetteville Observer's journalistic integrity by the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was unfounded. Secretary John Skvarla attempted to defend his agency's decision to allow pumping of contaminated water into North Carolina's rivers and lakes from Duke Energy's coal ash sites across the state without permits, controls and limits - or public disclosure and input. Duke Energy was previously caught by citizens for violating the law by doing exactly the same thing at its Cape Fear Plant upstream of Fayetteville's water intake. This time, fortunately, the federal Environmental Protection Agency caught DENR attempting to allow Duke to violate the law. According to the EPA, DENR's action would have allowed Duke to "draw the (coal ash) ponds down completely without taking a single sample to assess effluent quality, permit compliance, or water quality impact." It requested that DENR withdraw its authorization to allow pumping of coal ash water, and the agency complied.

Coal ash topic of meeting on Thursday (The Robesonian) -- A meeting to promote public awareness of potential environmental and health problems resulting from coal ash remaining on the site of the former Weatherspoon generating plant in Lumberton will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday in Robeson County Public Library’s Osterneck Auditorium. “Since the plant is now closed, coal ash is just sitting there directly adjacent to and almost in the Lumber River,” said the Rev. Mac Legerton of the Center for Community Action, the Lumberton-based organization that is sponsoring the event. “Little attention is now being paid to the coal ash pits. This could become a major problem if there is a hurricane or flood.”

Students work with solar power (Hendersonville Times-News) -- Students in Kathleen Abraham’s freshman Earth Environmental Science class each had methods they believed would make their passive solar model homes absorb and retain the most heat.

Exodus: Movement of N.C. Birds? (Coastal Review) -- Scientists predict that more than half of U.S. birds may be threatened by climate change, including ospreys, wild turkeys and brown pelicans.

Biofuel Companies Look Beyond the Gas Tank (New York Times) -- Many of the companies opening big new biofuel plants in the Midwest are shifting their focus to replacing petroleum in other products, like plastic bottles.

Power Plants Seek to Extend Life of Nuclear Reactors for Decades (New York Times) -- Nuclear proponents say that extending plants’ lifetimes is more economical — and a better way to hold down carbon dioxide emissions — than building new plants.

A MODEST PROPOSAL: Quarantine Texas, Promote N.C. (Politics NC) -- Recently someone, knowingly exposed to the Ebola virus, gets on an airplane and travels 2,400 miles. A few days later, it is discovered this person has the disease. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, may have, in some manner, come in close contact with this person. Political leaders, Democrats and Republicans, are rushing to call for travel restrictions, they say, would prevent this kind of potential exposure to the deadly disease. … But this wasn’t travel from west Africa to the United States. It was someone flying from Dallas, Texas to Cleveland, Ohio. Wonder how Texas Gov. Rick Perry or GOP Senate candidate and N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis might feel about a domestic travel ban from Ebola afflicted states like Texas? Well, for North Carolina, this might be an opportunity that Tillis, who is seeking a way to ignite his campaign, might ponder backing. There are several benefits to this – from economic opportunities for North Carolina to job creation in Texas. Consider this:

Court of Appeals (Greensboro News & Record) -- Mark Davis and Lucy Inman are our choices in two contested races. Then there’s the field of 19 candidates.

BURR: Making Ebola preparedness a priority Washington Times column) -- t is unsettling that in discussing shortfalls in the federal government’s response to the Ebola crisis, some Beltway observers have resorted to the traditional Washington shell game: blame the budget. The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for example, has lamented the lack of an Ebola vaccine and therapeutics due to insufficient resources. It is not, however, all that surprising. The blame-the-budget game diverts the conversation away from focusing on NIH accountability for past priorities and spending. Those grumbling about the lack of resources should not neglect the resources poured into low-priority and perhaps unnecessary projects at NIH during the last decade.

Naming highway for Tolson deserved (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- We’re not sure about the other 49 states, but we’d be amazed if anyone in North Carolina fails to recognize the important contributions made for all of us by former N.C. Rep. Norris Tolson. Tolson retired from a brilliant career with Dow Chemical only to take on a much tougher job as a representative from Edgecombe County in the N.C. General Assembly. … It’s no surprise that Edgecombe County commissioners have joined other groups in a campaign to honor Tolson by naming the section of N.C. 43 that passes through Edgecombe County the Norris Tolson Highway. The honor is richly deserved. Tolson and his brother, retiring N.C. Sen. Joe Tolson, remind us of the great things that can be accomplished when legislators put aside political agendas in order to work for the betterment of the people they represent. Renaming a highway seems the least we can do to honor Tolson’s service.