The United Methodist Church is getting a divorce

A "Traditionalist" faction is breaking away over LGBTQ issues:

The plan would sunder a denomination with 13 million members globally — roughly half of them in the United States — and create at least one new “traditionalist Methodist” denomination that would continue to ban same-sex marriage as well as the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy.

It seems likely that the majority of the denomination’s churches in the United States would remain in the existing United Methodist Church, which would become a more liberal-leaning institution as conservative congregations worldwide depart.

This was inevitable after hard-liners recently voted to ban gay ministers and same-sex marriage. As an outsider looking in I'm hesitant to pass judgment, because I know several Progressives in the church that were hoping to eventually change it across the board from within. But life is too short to put up with such prejudice, and LGBTQ folks deserve to take part without being subjected to controversy.

Saturday News: Identification politics

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NC BOARD OF ELECTIONS SUSPENDS FREE ID CARD PROGRAM: As part of the state's voter ID law, the General Assembly mandated that election offices in all 100 North Carolina counties provide free photo IDs to people who need them. State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell sent those offices a memo Friday, telling them to stop issuing voter ID cards immediately "to avoid confusion by the public and to ensure voters do not receive inaccurate information." The state and local offices will update a number of things in the wake of U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs' decision, which will be appealed. Brinson Bell's memo said county offices should remove signs reminding people of the new photo ID requirement and that new signs would be coming soon.
https://www.wral.com/counties-will-stop-issuing-free-ids-after-judge-s-voter-id-order/18866227/

Wagging the rabid dog

Anyone who claims special knowledge or insight about last night's criminal action by Trump is full of it. There's no insight to be had ... just an opportunistic madman bringing America to a new kind of ugliness. Among many in the world, we already deserved pariah status. Trump's bombing will cement that reputation for generations.

One place I turn to understand complex issues is to a daily newsletter I receive from Heather Richardson. You can subscribe too, and also follow her on Twitter. @HC_Richardson

January 2

I sat down to write tonight about a number of stories I had saved over the course of the day, and opened the laptop seven minutes after news broke that the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds force, Qassem Soleimani, along with the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, had been assassinated in Iraq. At the time it was not clear who had done it, but the US government claimed responsibility minutes later.

Durham project residents speak out about carbon monoxide and rats

67 year-old buildings need serious maintenance:

In a tense meeting, residents of McDougald Terrace aired their concerns and frustrations to the Durham Housing Authority on Thursday.

Angry residents also pressed officials about the deaths of two babies at McDougald Terrace -- one child died Nov. 20; the other on Dec. 8. Durham's Assistant EMS Chief Lee Van Vleet told them that until autopsy reports come back, they cannot rule out the possibility the babies were poisoned by carbon monoxide.

Durham voters just approved a $95 Million affordable housing bond, so there's no reason why this particular project should be penny-pinched. What's the point in building new structures if you can't maintain the ones you've got? I know all the arguments about old structures vs. newer ones, I actually supervised several "troop self help" construction teams that renovated old WWII barracks on Ft. Bragg and turned them into office spaces. McDougald has 360 (brick) apartment units that could theoretically last another 70 years with the right investments, but the City seems to have forgotten it exists:

Friday News: Comes with the territory

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NC ATTORNEY GENERAL APPEALS VOTER ID RULING: The question of voter ID in North Carolina for the November 2020 elections remains unsettled, as Attorney General Josh Stein announced Thursday he will appeal a judge’s ruling blocking the state law requiring ID from going into effect. However, it appears that no matter how the legal fight unfolds, voter ID won’t be required during the state’s primary elections. Stein said in a news release that he would not request that ID be put back in place for the primary, “to avoid any further voter confusion.” Although Election Day for the primary isn’t until March, absentee voting starts in less than two weeks. His decision follows a high-profile win by the North Carolina NAACP, which successfully argued to a federal judge that the 2018 voter ID law appeared to be motivated at least partially by racial discrimination.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article238917153.html

SELC achieves record settlement on excavating coal ash

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The entire state owes them a debt of gratitude:

In a historic settlement SELC reached with Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality today, approximately 80 million tons of toxic coal ash at six Duke Energy coal ash sites are now slated for excavation.

Prior settlements and court orders required cleanups and excavation of 46 million tons of the toxic coal ash at eight other Duke Energy sites in North Carolina, and now the utility’s sites at its Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo, and Roxboro facilities will be added to that list.

This is fantastic news, but we need to be cognizant of the next shoe that will drop: Rate increases associated with said cleanup. I'm not really speculating with this, Duke Energy is highly predictable, and will likely be pushing for another double-digit increase very soon. We will be watching.

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