Wake GOP celebrates 'Merica by giving away Kalashnikov

A symbol of repression to tens of millions worldwide:

The Wake County Republican Party is raffling off a trio of guns to raise money for this year’s election campaign. On Thursday afternoon, the party sent out an email encouraging supporters to buy tickets for the “U-Pick It Gun Raffle,” in which three winners will be drawn to choose one of “three great long guns” – an AK-47, a sport rifle and a shotgun.

“Celebrate the 2nd Amendment and support the Wake County Republican Party in the process,” the invite says. Supporters can buy a ticket for $10 or 10 tickets for $50; the raffle ends on July 9.

Er, that "sport rifle" referenced in the article is also an assault rifle, an AR-15 knockoff. If you consider scaring little children (and many adults) a "sport," I guess that description would fit. Apparently becoming a part-time arms dealer is a great way to cover the costs of running a political party headquarters, although I could list numerous historical cases where "arming your supporters" backfired for many wannabe tyrants.

Friday News: Anatomy of an injustice edition

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NC DMV: ‘WE MESSED UP REJECTING 86-YEAR-OLD WOMAN SEEKING VOTER ID’ (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Reba Miller Bowser wants a photo ID so she can vote in the March primary
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article59763976.html

DESPITE LITIGATION, N.C. VOTER ID BEGINS MARCH 3 (AP) -- The future of voter ID in North Carolina ultimately will be resolved by the courts as lawsuits claiming racial discrimination are pending, but the litigation hasn't changed the fact the photo identification mandate will begin statewide in three weeks.
http://www.wral.com/despite-litigation-north-carolina-voter-id-begins-march-3/15353302/

The Triad's Dioxane pollution problem

Who are the mystery men dumping carcinogens into our water shed?

“I’m assuming that it’s coming from the Haw River, from the Greensboro area,” Christiansen said this week in a telephone interview. “My wishful thinking is that they are going to find the source and eliminate it. It seems to me it would to be pretty easy to backtrack. I would think it would be pretty easy to have a list of what the industries are (that might use dioxane).

In line with Christiansen’s thought about the ease of putting together a list of industrial sites likeliest to be 1,4 dioxane sources, Drew said “we do have an idea of who a few of the largest contributors of 1,4 dioxane to our sewer collection system might be.” But city officials don’t want to “name or implicate possible dischargers while they perform their due diligence and investigative work.”

Like many industrial chemicals, the "acceptable" level in drinking water varies by regulatory agencies. Some have set it as low as .07 parts per billion, while others go up to 3 PPB. But Sanford is dealing with twice that higher level all the way downstream, because the levels upstream are huge:

Thursday News: Arsenic in DEQ's water fountains

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SOLAR PANEL POLLUTION LIKE COAL ASH? (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Did a top state environmental official actually compare the potential threat of pollution from coal ash to that posed by solar panels?
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article59...

N.C. OFFICIAL LIKENS SOLAR PANELS TO COAL ASH — Solar industry members and advocates told a legislative panel Wednesday there's little need to worry about the safe removal of solar panels in the state's future. Department of Environmental Quality Deputy Secretary Tom Reeder echoed many of those concerns during his presentation on the issue to the Environmental Review Commission, noting that more environmental safeguards are required for large-screen televisions, composting operations and strip malls than for solar panels, which are proliferating as more solar farms come on line in North Carolina.
http://www.wral.com/solar-backers-seek-to-allay-lawmakers-fears/15348465/

The value of majority-minority Congressional districts

When arguing about gerrymandering on social media, it never fails that someone will pipe up and declare that boundaries should be radically simplified, and neither race nor political parties be considered. The arguments get even testier when majority-minority districts are discussed. And very often you will see claims that both parties engage in racial gerrymandering to serve their own interests. But in reality, creating and supporting majority-minority districts actually hurts the Democratic Party:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy's fine is laughable

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It's all about the context:

While these latest fines might seem steep to those of us who are not huge utility companies, Duke Energy has assets of $120.7 billion. Six and a half million is loose change to Duke, a company whose CEO made $10.5 million the year after the coal-ash spill — a $2.5 million raise from the year before. And even the $102 million Duke agreed to pay the feds is hardly enough to clean up the damage the company caused. As ThinkProgress points out, a study from last year “estimated the ecological, recreational, aesthetic, and human health damages from the spill totaled $295,485,000. And that study looked at only the first six months after the spill, meaning the total damage could end up being higher.”

It's also important to remember: Duke Energy's "cleanup" from the Dan River spill only removed a fraction of the volume of toxic coal ash released into the river, leaving over 90% of the mess where it came to rest. The only thing that's harder to calculate than the total environmental damage done by Duke Energy is the amount of influence they wield in state government and the conflicts of interest generated by their political spending:

Wednesday News: Wrecking ball swings again

IN ELECTION YEAR, LEGISLATORS LOOK TO CUT INCOME TAXES (Raleigh News & Observer) -- State legislators could consider election-year income tax cuts that could save families up to $115 per year.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article59396328.html

N.C. LAWMAKERS BEGIN TALKS ON INCOME TAX CUT (WRAL-TV) -- Leaders of the legislative committee responsible for recommending changes to North Carolina tax laws say they are likely to ask fellow lawmakers to consider an income tax cut this year.
http://www.wral.com/nc-lawmakers-begin-talks-on-income-tax-cut/15342490/

Tuesday Twitter roundup

A glimpse into the bizarro world of Republican ideology:

While other states are contemplating decriminalizing drug abuse and opting for treatment methods instead, we're moving to take away *all* medical treatment for drug users, even the life-saving parts. Congratulations GOP, you've set a new standard for wrongness.

Tuesday News: History in the making

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SANCTIONS LIFTED, AMERICAN TOURISTS HEAD TO IRAN (New York Times) -- William O. Beeman, a professor and chairman of the anthropology department at the University of Minnesota and an expert in Iran plans to take 14 travelers to Iran in June on a sold-out trip organized by Iran Luxury Travel , a two-year-old company in North Carolina. Steve Kutay, a former importer, founded Iran Luxury Travel in his retirement “as a good thing to do,” he said, in terms of encouraging people-to-people diplomacy (trips start at $2,995 a person, double occupancy for eight days).
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/14/travel/iran-tourism-sanctions.html

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