Thursday News: Here we go again...

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GOP CONTEMPLATES SPECIAL SESSION AFTER HURRICANE FLORENCE: Both Bell and Senate Finance Chairman Harry Brown said a session would deal only with disaster relief. The Republican majority that controls the General Assembly has a history, though, of dropping surprise legislation into special legislative sessions. They came back into session in December 2016 to pass some $200 million in disaster relief for Hurricane Matthew, then also passed legislation limiting incoming Gov. Roy Cooper's powers. This time, "if we come back into session, it will be for disaster recovery only," said Bell, R-Wayne. Brown, R-Onslow, said he couldn't think of anything else the legislature would take up. “I would think [disaster relief] would be the only thing," he said. The General Assembly already plans to come back into session after Thanksgiving to flesh out implementation language for any constitutional amendments that pass during the Nov. 6 elections.
https://www.wral.com/lawmakers-prep-for-special-session-if-needed-after-florence/17837427/

Coal Ash Wednesday: Florence likely to bring environmental nightmare

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And coal ash pits are perfectly situated to be flooded out:

Since power plants need vast amounts of water to generate steam, their unlined waste pits are located along lakes and rivers. Some of the pits were inundated during past storms, including during Floyd and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

After a 2014 spill at a Duke plant coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge, state regulators forced the Charlotte-based company to begin phasing out its coal ash pits by 2029. Because that work was already underway, wastewater levels inside the ash ponds have been falling, Duke Energy spokesman Bill Norton said Tuesday. "We're more prepared than ever," said Norton, adding that crews will be monitoring water levels at the pits throughout the storm.

Yeah, you can "monitor" those pits all you want, but if they are overrun by flood waters, and those dirt berms collapse, there is literally nothing you can do to stop the contamination. As I've mentioned in the past, using water for steam and cooling is not the only reason those pits are right on the banks of rivers. It's also a handy way of draining that toxic water right into a fast-moving body, where evidence of the discharge disappears after a short period of time. In addition to coal ash, pig poop and nukes are also a concern:

Wednesday News: Not-so-deep state

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MARK MEADOWS DEVELOPS CONSPIRACY THEORIES TO PROTECT TRUMP: On Sept. 5, a week after a closed-door interview between Ohr and the House Oversight Committee, Meadows sent a letter asking the Justice Department to review Ohr’s contacts with Steele. But even before that request, Meadows was floating a theory for his supporters to consider. “Here are some key facts you need to know about Bruce Ohr to understand why he is important to our investigation,” Meadows wrote in an email newsletter. “Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS — which was the firm hired by the Clinton campaign to write the dossier. Bruce Ohr gave the dossier to the FBI. The FBI then used the same dossier to spy on the Trump campaign.” But as PolitiFact noted in a fact-check of conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt about Jordan’s theory, there is no evidence that Nellie Ohr personally routed the dossier to the Justice Department.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article218184400.html

Tuesday News: McCrory jumps on Marsy bandwagon

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HIS FINELY-TUNED SENSE OF SMELL DETECTED THE $5 MILLION CAMPAIGN BUDGET: In what could be North Carolina’s most expensive single campaign of the fall, former Gov. Pat McCrory Monday helped kick off the effort to pass a constitutional amendment designed to ensure the rights of crime victims. “Victims too often feel abandoned and we need to give them a voice,” McCrory told reporters in Charlotte. A simultaneous news conference took place at Raleigh’s Crime Victims’ Memorial Garden. Speakers there included former Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby. Critics question the need for the amendment as well as its potential cost. “What’s most disturbing about it is it really crashes head-on with the presumption of innocence,” said Drew Findling, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. “The presumption of innocence is abandoned when you immediately take the position that there is a victim of a crime.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article218118890.html

NC's African-American incarceration rate is staggering

This doesn't happen by accident, it's a systemic problem:

13 – North Carolina has the 13th largest prison population in the country

37,104 – The number of people in prison in North Carolina as of May 2018

1 in 40 – The number of Black men in North Carolina who were imprisoned as of 2016

52.9 percent – While Black people made up only 21.5 percent of the state’s adult population in 2016, they accounted for more than half (52.9%) of the state’s prison population

That's roughly 18,550 black North Carolinians behind bars, and the vast majority of them are there for non-violent crimes. And with the penny-pinching associated with public defender funding, many of those currently incarcerated have legitimate Constitutional concerns about their treatment. But I'll let the public defenders themselves explain why that's wrong:

Monday News: Police state

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GROUPS AGAIN CLASH OVER SILENT SAM, EIGHT ARRESTED: Once the students and members of the New Confederate States of America were both on campus, the groups began yelling back and forth, as those in opposition to the return of the “Silent Sam” statue yelled “Nazis go home" and threatened to pull the statue down again if it returns to campus. Video from the scene showed that the two groups were being kept away from each other with barricades. After about an hour, the members of the New Confederate States of America were willingly escorted off campus by police and the situation escalated as the group of anti-"Silent Sam" demonstrators turned on police, upset that law enforcement protected a group they believe stands for hate. Police from Durham, Chapel Hill and Greensboro held the crowd back as they pushed through and a line of bicycles was used to keep students back.
https://www.wral.com/eight-charged-with-resisting-assaulting-officers-during-saturday-silent-sam-pro...

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NORTH CAROLINA'S BRAND SHOULDN'T BE HOMAGE TO FALSE PAST: Headed east on Hillsborough Street toward the state Capitol, the view dominated by a 75-foot-tall monument – commemorating “Our Confederate dead … First at Bethel, Last at Appomattox.” It was dedicated May 20, 1895 and unveiled by Julia Jackson Christian, granddaughter of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. It is a relic to what should be a time gone by -- part of the Jim Crow-era propaganda campaign to cloud the realities of defeat in the Civil War. As significant, it was a daily reminder to the freed African-American population that they remained second-class with rights and privileges still subject to those white men wanted to grant. Is our first message to visitors; “Welcome to North Carolina. We were part of the Confederacy”?
https://www.wral.com/north-carolina-s-brand-shouldn-t-be-homage-to-false-past/17822667/

NC DMV also received subpoena for voting-related records

But apparently tried to keep it hush-hush:

In a further sign of the sprawling nature of the Justice Department’s effort to collect voting records in North Carolina, prosecutors demanded eight years of information from the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles, according to a copy of the subpoena obtained by The New York Times.

The subpoena to the state D.M.V., like those to the state and county elections boards, was issued on Aug. 31 and set a Sept. 25 deadline for the records. A department spokesperson, who previously denied that the agency had been subpoenaed, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Three things: 1) You're already neck-deep in controversy and bad press over the wait times for Real ID, 2) NC-based journalists are not likely to appreciate being scooped on this by the New York Times, and 3) Your continued refusal to acknowledge (publicly) your department has been subpoenaed makes you look foolish and timid as a new-born kitten, especially considering the Attorney General has officially challenged these subpoenas. Here's what the Feds want from the DMV:

Saturday News: Canceled fishing expedition

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AG JOSH STEIN STANDS UP TO U.S. ATTORNEY'S OVERREACH ON VOTING RECORDS SUBPOENA: Stein, in a letter to the U.S. attorney’s office, asked the office to withdraw the subpoenas and issue new ones “that are appropriately tailored to documents relevant to your inquiry.” Stein said if the matter is not resolved by Monday, Sept. 10, “we will have no option but to request judicial relief.” The subpoena requested from the state board all voter registration applications, federal write-in absentee ballots, federal post card applications, early-voting application forms, provisional voting forms, absentee ballot request forms, all “admission or denial of non-citizen return forms,” and all voter registration cancellation or revocation forms from Jan. 1, 2010 through Aug. 30, 2018. More than 15 million documents would have to be turned over, said Andy Penry, the chairman of the state board.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article217982770.html

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