Smithfield and MLK Jr. Day

You've probably heard by now that Smithfield Foods plans to dock any worker that walks out or doesn't show up on Monday.
Not the first of the troubles at the plant, which is the largest hog slaughtering operation in the world. Here's the Smithfield Justice site on the issue.
Smithfield workers have organized a petition drive. Text of their sample letter:

For over ten years, the workers at Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel, NC have worked dangerous jobs under extreme conditions. The workers kill and disassemble 32,000 pigs a day in your Tar Heel plant and receive very little respect from management. For years the workers have fought for their right to choose a union in the plant, but time and time again they are met with resistance at the hand of you, Smithfield.

2006 midterm results indicate success for Dean's Fifty State Strategy

Thursday Chris Bowers at MyDD posted on a study by Harvard University's Elaine Kamarck indicating early success for Howard Dean's Fifty State Strategy. The study focused on "39 congressional districts where Dean had made an investment in organizing" (as opposed to states where the organizers worked at the state party headquarters for all U.S. House candidates). The North Carolina Democratic Party now has three organizers.

...those congressional districts where the DNC had paid organizers on the ground for over a year more than doubled the Democratic vote over what would have happened due to forces outside the control of the Party, such as the war in Iraq and the unpopularity of a Republican President.

Nightmare for Newspapers

Left to their own devices, the current owners of American newspapers are indeed likely to consummate the suicide pact they have entered into with their investors. That should scare the hell out of Americans who recognize that Jefferson was right when he said that good journalism is essential to democracy. It should also get citizens asking the right questions: If newspapers really are fading away, what comes next?

As a journalism school graduate and the husband of a professor at UNC Chapel Hill's J-school, I have a soft spot in my heart for newspapers. So when I came across the above paragraph in The Nation magazine, it really got my attention - especially since it referenced Phil Meyer, a friend and another professor in the J-school who wrote The Vanishing Newspapers.

Newspapers may be the dinosaurs of America's new-media age, hulking behemoths that cost too much to prepare and distribute and that cannot seem to attract young--or even middle-aged--readers in the numbers needed to survive. They may well have entered the death spiral that Philip Meyer, in his recent book The Vanishing Newspaper, predicts will conclude one day in 2043 as the last reader throws aside the final copy of a newspaper.

All of this, of course, creates a real conundrum. Newspapers have always had obscene profit margins, and as the corporate owners seek to sustain those margins, they've resorted to cost-cutting with a vengeance. That's why the Charlotte Observer and the N&O increasing swap stories written by over-extended reporters who don't have the time or inclination to ask that next hard question. The two papers even share Babs Barrett, their Washington correspondent.

Puppet Swings

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In a local squabble reminiscent of infighting around Connecticut for Lieberman, Hairdresser Puppet Joe Boylan tells a Pilot reporter that he doesn't know how to pull strings the way the Puppetmaster does.

The Moore County Republican Party's Executive Committee has adopted a resolution asking state Rep.-elect Joe Boylan to help squelch the actions of one of his supporters. The resolution doesn't name Boylan backer Ed Kennedy, though it clearly refers to him.

"I don't have any more control over Mr. Kennedy's actions than I do over those of supporters of my opponent," Boylan said Thursday.

Andy and Babs - Rumor Mongers?

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I know not to expect much objectivity from the N&O's Under the Dome gossip column, but today the Doom seems hard set on stirring up conflict where none exists.

First off, there's this half-assed headline: Speaker Vote Sparks Talk of Deal With GOP. Andy Curliss and Babs Barrett didn't write the headline, so they can't be faulted for that, but for god's sake, the paper could at least find an editor who's more up to date on the issues. Talk of a deal with the GOP has been going on for months. If anything, the Speaker vote put that talk to rest.

Climate change commission hearing

Via Ex:

The LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, chaired by speaker-nominee Rep. Joe Hackney and Greensboro attorney John L. W. Garrou, meets again this morning with a focus on how climate change may affect the state's coastline and coastal communities.

Last fall, the co-chairs penned an interesting piece on the so-called scientific debate over climate change and how the media covers the issue. Worth a read. So's this.

The agenda looks pretty interesting—a lineup of some of the top coastal experts. You can tune in to the hearings at the legislature's audio site.

The meeting is 10 a.m. in Room 643 LOB. Full agenda after the break;

Votes of Our Congressional Reps on Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research

Here are the votes on HR-3, The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

The only vote that was previously undeclared was Heath Shuler's "NO" vote. The total votes were 253 votes "Yea," and 174 votes "No," which is 37 votes short of what it will take to override Bush's promised veto.

District 01 Butterfield, G K (D) - Yea
District 02 Etheridge, Bob (D) - Yea
District 03 Jones, Walter B Jr (R) - No
District 04 Price, David (D) - Yea
District 05 Foxx, Virginia (R) - No
District 06 Coble, Howard (R) - Yea
District 07 McIntyre, Mike (D) - No
District 08 Hayes, Robin (R) - No
District 09 Myrick, Sue (R) - No
District 10 McHenry, Patrick (R) - No
District 11 Shuler, Heath (D) - No

District 12 Watt, Melvin L (D) - Yea
District 13 Miller, Brad (D) - Yea

Open Thread: Miscellaneous Notes

In a survey printed in The Herald Sun, each member of North Carolina's congressional delegation was asked whether or not they supported George Bush's escalation of the war in Iraq. With the defection of Congressmen Howard Coble and Walter Jones, support even among Republicans is beginning to wane. What was particularly interesting, however, was Sen. Elizabeth Dole's remark which carefully avoided offering strong support for the increased troop commitment.

I am inclined to support the president's overall plan to make economic revitalization and reconstruction in Iraq a higher priority and to increase the U.S. troop presence to help the Iraqi government impose its authority, weaken the militias, and bolster reconstruction. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee... I want to know more details about the specific missions these men and women will perform, and how this new direction will get the job done, stabilize Iraq, and allow our troops in harm's way to return home.

Does that sound like a ringing endorsement to you?


In The News & Observer there was a similar poll of how members of congress come down on the issue of federal support for embryonic stem cell research. Note that Rep. Mike McIntyre intends to vote once more against federal funding, but he avoided discussing his personal opinion. Instead the article specifies that...

McIntyre said in an interview last week that Democratic leaders know how important it is for members to be able to vote their constituents' needs. And McIntyre will vote against the measure again, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Looks like the citizens of his district made him do it. Poor man.

Can you hear me now?

In comments overheard on an open microphone between morning television interviews, including one with Fox, the top U.S. diplomat said: "My Fox guys, I love every single one of them." But Rice told an aide that when she was next in Iraq she would like to do a "one-on-one" interview with CBS "The Early Show" anchor Harry Smith. "He's a decent guy. I know they are, like, 55 in the ratings, but I like him," Rice said in comments monitored by Reuters on a television feed.

From Reuters

Awwww. Isn't that sweet. My Fox guys. They'll carry any utterance of the Child King as though it were wisdom from the lips of the lord.

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