Tuesday News: "Wedge this" edition


DESPITE MCCRORY'S REQUEST, COOPER WON'T JOIN VIRGINIA TRANSGENDER BATHROOM SUIT (WRAL-TV) -- Attorney General Roy Cooper has rejected a call by Gov. Pat McCrory to side with a Virginia school district against a discrimination lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that would allow a transgender high school student to use the men's bathroom.

NC's African-American voters made to suffer by county BOE's

Long distance runaround:

Last year, North Carolina's Board of Elections changed the locations of many of its hundreds of Early Voting sites across the state. No one seems to have noticed that those changes added more than a third of a million miles to the distance between black voters' homes and their polling places, while affecting white voters' aggregate distance-to-poll hardly at all.

(Author's note: I was going to include this in my Tuesday Twitter post, but after perusing the data, it became evident it needed better exposure.) We've long suspected there was a concerted effort to disenfranchise certain voting demographics by relocating polling sites, but now we have the data to back that up. It also increases the likelihood (by a factor of ten) there was/is a state-wide conspiracy to make voting more difficult for people of color; you don't get these numbers by accident:

Another lawsuit to stop GOP's racial gerrymandering emerges

Bringing the total active cases to four:

Another challenge of North Carolina's 2011 legislative districts based on accusations of racial gerrymandering is back in court. Three federal judges scheduled a Monday hearing in Greensboro to hear motions in the lawsuit filed by registered voters against the state and legislative leaders.

They say lines drawn by Republican lawmakers for nearly 30 House and Senate districts are illegal because they relied too much on race.

The GOP's mapmakers weren't nearly as clever as they thought they were, and the more detailed the inspection, the more likely the truth will eventually come out. It's been almost five years since these new districts were shoved down our throats, but the fight still continues. Why? Because "wrong" doesn't get better over time, it gets worse.

Monday News: Rodney under fire edition

GOING AFTER THE NCAE (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Republican lawmakers have no credibility when it comes to public education or those who help to provide and support it. So the attacks on the president of the N.C. Association of Educators for being on “educational leave” and continuing to build his pension are hollow. Sen. Chad Barefoot of Wake County is one of those saying Rodney Ellis shouldn’t be allowed to work for NCAE, which reimburses his Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school district for his salary and benefits, and still build his retirement. But Barefoot and others who are after Ellis have made something of a cause of attacking public school teachers, so their motives are suspect.

Labor dispute in Roxboro a common theme for undocumented workers

Tyranny comes in many forms:

Solais said she reported to work by 10 each morning six days a week and dragged herself home at 10 each night. She said she earned between $300 and $400 each week, which would have amounted to $4 to $6 an hour, less than the $7.25 minimum wage and the $11 an hour overtime pay.

Scotti D’Abbusco has said in court filings that Solais did not work for him before 2013. He says she logged an average of 20 to 23 hours a week, working half-shifts. He described a friendship with Solais that soured after he and his wife said they couldn’t help her bring her daughter to America. “They really feel stunned by what has happened,” Cline said. “He feels very much snakebit.”

And as is also common, Roxboro's elite are at least tacitly complicit in her maltreatment. The restaurant is right across the street from the courthouse, the symbol of justice for the entire County, and judges, lawyers, cops, other business owners, all enjoyed the food she prepared. But because she had the audacity to complain about having her wages stolen by her employer, those "stewards of justice" now want to throw her in jail. Again, a contemporary NC story that could have been taken right off the pages of a Charles Dickens inked manuscript. As for our own Department of Labor:

Sunday News: Try another one, Bob

BUILDING A MYTH: DO IRS AGENTS OUTNUMBER FBI AND SPIES? NOT EVEN CLOSE (WRAL-TV) -- A Republican state lawmaker -- Rep. Bob Steinburg of Chowan County -- claimed there are more IRS agents than there are FBI and CIA agents combined. It doesn't take too much cloak-and-dagger work to find this claim questionable. There are 2,303 IRS special agents with police powers. That's less than a fifth of the total number of FBI special agents.

DEQ spins off "fracking" division

The key to keeping secrets is compartmentalization:

The energy group will be comprised of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality's Energy and N.C. Geological Survey sections of the Energy, Mineral and Land Resources division. Van der Vaart is also creating an energy executive director who will lead the group.

“The governor made it clear from the start of his administration that one of his top priorities is to develop and implement an all-of-the-above energy strategy that fits North Carolina’s needs,” van der Vaart says in a video announcing the plan. “I fully support the governor’s energy initiative and feel very strongly that affordable energy is vital to growing the economy, maintaining good quality of life and bringing us closer to energy independence.”

And yes, when you see the phrase "all-of-the-above" used in reference to energy, it's code for fracking and/or offshore drilling. I think they latched onto the phrase in the hopes renewable energy advocates would be less anti-fracking if they thought it was all one big, happy family, playing together on a level playing field. There is no such thing. And by separating this new division from others at DEQ, their activities will no longer be common knowledge amongst state regulators, some of whom might be a little concerned about water quality and such. From the DEQ's Energy section:

Saturday News: Questions that need answers edition


TURNING FROM REFUGEES, ARE WE CHOOSING TO BE ISIS VICTIMS? (Richmond County Daily Journal) -- Our own governor, Pat McCrory, joined a chorus of governors here in the U.S. protesting the settlement of any Syrian refugee within their state borders. Now, whether the states actually have any power to bar refugees is another matter. It may be just a lot of political bluster with no real weight, except to flame our fears. But that’s not the issue for us. We can’t help but feel that the terrorists can claim another victory when it comes to the fate of the refugees. They have not only instilled fear in people in Paris, but in people around the world.

SHUTTING THE DOOR TO OUR CLUNKY, BEAUTIFUL DEMOCRACY (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- In the civics class I teach for English language learners at a North Carolina high school, we usually reserve a few minutes of each class to discuss news events that relate to our course content. The news lately has been sad and difficult to discuss. On Monday, my students – refugees and migrants from around the world – asked me why Paris was embraced in the wake of its tragedy while Beirut was ignored.

CTS Asheville update: One acre is not enough

From our friends at the P.O.W.E.R. Action Group:

Through November 29, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will take public comments on the Proposed Plan for Interim Remedial Action at the CTS of Asheville Superfund Site. You can easily submit your letter through a comment form on the Mountain True website. Also, this November 14 Asheville Citizen-Times article provides a good summary of where the CTS clean up stands today.

CTS' contractor, AMEC Foster Wheeler, proposed to treat approximately one acre of soil where some of the toxic TCE contamination is concentrated. However, this narrow scope does nothing to address other areas of extremely high TCE concentrations in soil, groundwater and bedrock throughout the site.

There's one drawback to the EPA forcing companies to clean up their own messes: The polluters themselves get to come up with the plan. And in this case, the plan is so inadequate, the word inadequate is inadequate to describe it. Let the EPA know how dangerous this is, before your back yard becomes a breeding ground for cancers, too.

Mercenaries providing security at Carter-Finley?

Sometimes the cure is worse than the illness:

NC State is ramping up security at Carter Finley Stadium for its final two home games.

School officials say there will be increased security and law enforcement officers inside and outside the stadium, in the parking lots and in areas surrounding the stadium as a precaution.

I hesitated posting this, because a) I could very easily be mistaken, and b) If I'm not mistaken, publicizing Tiger Swan's involvement could (theoretically) cause additional security issues at the events in question. But people deserve to know if private military contractors are operating in their presence.


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