Saturday News: Duke Energy's economic blackmail

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COAL ASH PITS: DUKE ENERGY TELLS NEIGHBORS TO WAIVE CLAIMS (WRAL-TV) -- Neighbors living near Duke Energy Corp's coal ash pits in North Carolina are being told they have to give up the option of suing over any future water problems if they want extra compensation from the utility. The country's largest electric company sent out letters last week to about 1,000 homeowners living near 13 of the company's coal-burning power plants spread across North Carolina. In them, the utility said it will require the waiver to release the company from "any claims for further compensation or recovery from Duke Energy" related to alleged groundwater pollution or unsatisfactory municipal water connections. Duke Energy said its coal-ash pits are not to blame for any contaminants detected in groundwater. The company is offering a $5,000 "goodwill" payment to neighbors "to support your transition to a new water supply," the letters said.
http://www.wral.com/coal-ash-pits-duke-energy-tells-neighbors-to-waive-claims/16496307/

USDA under Trump scrubs animal welfare information from website

If you want to know, you'll have to file a FOIA:

It just became nearly impossible to know what's happening to animals in zoos, puppy mills and research laboratories.

Information about the roughly 9,000 facilities related to animals protected under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — including SeaWorld, dog breeders and puppy mills, zoos, circuses (including Ringling Bros.) and taxpayer-funded animal testing labs, among others — was removed from the USDA website on Friday.

I've been blogging here for going on ten years, and very often my search for reliable and up-to-date information leads me to one or more of the Federal agencies. More than just informative, their websites serve as a repository for related research, much of it done by institutions outside of government. But it appears that goldmine of information may be about to play out, as Trump's tiny hands dig deeper into the soil of these departments. This need to control information flow is frightening, and (again) closely resembles actions taken by tyrants in the not-free world. Pay attention, or there may be nothing left to pay attention to.

OWASA crisis: Fluoridation mishap or water main break?

Better get your bottled water now, before the rioting and looting in Chapel Hill begins:

Do Not Drink Order: Due to low pressure in the OWASA service area we are not sure if the water is safe for consumption. Until testing has been completed, the Orange County Health Department is issuing a Do Not Drink order. Boiling water is not recommended. Only bottled water is recommended.

Do Not Use Order: Because of the water main break and the subsequent shortage, we are also issuing a Do Not Use order. Bottled water should be used for all water needs including flushing toilets, washing hands, cooking, etc…

Restaurants: All restaurants served by OWASA are being ordered closed by the Orange County Health Director.

I suppose it's possible somebody tipped the fluoride bottle too heavily (That's not really how they do it) first, and then the water main decided it was time to break, but that sounds more like a bad made-for-TV movie than real life. So this is not only a "learning experience" about not taking potable water for granted, there's also a "messaging" lesson to be learned...

Moore has second thoughts about Amazon Wind Farm

Score one more for common sense:

Asked about his reaction to a tour he attended last week of Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East, Moore’s office shared a statement that contrasted sharply with the January letter’s demands to either shut down or drastically modify the 104-turbine farm near Elizabeth City.

“The Amazon Wind Farm is new to North Carolina and takes advantage of a valuable natural resource our state has to offer,” Moore said in the statement. “Based on the information I have gathered today and over the past several weeks, it appears the initial concerns raised by the military are being addressed.”

Just to be clear, the "initial concerns" raised by the military were addressed long before this letter was dreamed up by Harry Brown and his fellow fossil-fuel-loving dinosaurs. Which Moore should have known before adding his signature. But some others seem to be too stubborn to let go of their fictional narrative:

Friday News: Hager spins through the revolving door

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CASHING IN: EX-HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER OPENS LOBBY BIZ (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Former N.C. House Majority Leader Mike Hager, a Rutherfordton Republican who resigned from the legislature last August, says he’s launching a lobbying firm. The firm will be called Hager Strategic Solutions, and for now it’s just the former legislator with no other lobbyists on staff. He said Thursday that he’ll officially register as a lobbyist in a few weeks once his six-month “cooling off period” ends. Under state law, elected officials must wait six months after leaving office before lobbying. “There’s still some work left on regulatory reform issues, and there’s still some good conservative issues out there,” he said.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article13...

Before the cock crows: Senate holds DeVos vote at 6:30 a.m.

Pre-coffee decisions are not wise:

The Senate voted early Friday to advance President Donald Trump's education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos to a final confirmation vote, which is expected Monday. The vote was 52 to 48 along party lines.

Senators convened at the unusual, early hour -- 6:30 a.m. ET -- because of Democratic stalling tactics that reflect their unhappiness with Trump's cabinet picks and the overall confirmation process.

Of course Burr and Tillis voted for her, and they will do so again on Monday. And although two other Republican Senators have promised to oppose her, Pence will merely slide in and cast the tie-breaking vote. Classic bait-and-switch, and you have to wonder if this is merely a distraction. A distraction that could be concealing the preparations for war:

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