Vinroot uses faulty data when promoting diversity of charter schools

Masking the reality of state-sponsored segregation:

“I am very much concerned,” says state Rep. Rosa Gill, a Wake County Democrat and former high school math teacher who sits on the N.C. House of Representatives’ education committee. “I think when our legislators have false information, we come up with legislation that is not in the best interest of kids.”

To make his points, Vinroot relies on free or reduced lunch data in charters. By most estimations, that’s not a fair assessment, experts say, pointing out less than a third of the state’s charters participate in that program.

But I'm sure the public school haters in the General Assembly will eat it up with gusto.

Wednesday News: Trump vs. Meadows

TRUMP CALLS OUT MARK MEADOWS OVER HIS REFUSAL TO SUPPORT AHCA: Trump singled out Mark Meadows (R-NC), who is the Freedom Caucus Chairman. Meadows has said that his group has enough votes to block the measure. “I think Mark Meadows will get there too," Trump told the GOP House members, according to The Hill. "...Because honestly, a loss is not acceptable, folks," Trump said. The Hill reports that Trump added, “Oh Mark, I’m coming after you. I hope Mark will be with us in the end." The President also indicated to the group that a failed vote on Thursday could result in members losing their seats during the primaries.
http://wlos.com/news/local/trump-calls-out-rep-meadows-im-coming-after-you

About that whole "Let's reach out to Trump voters" thing...

The North Carolina Democratic Party is in the midst of a building season; organizing precincts, preparing for county conventions, settling in with a diverse new batch of state party leaders, etc. There are also several formal and informal groups putting their collective heads together to try to fashion new messages, reassess priorities, and check boxes we've previously ignored or only paid lip service to. There's a lot of brainstorming going on, and that's a good thing. But I think it's important we keep some things in perspective, and not allow ourselves to chase after people we really don't want to catch, because, as they say, you are what you eat. Follow me below the fold if you want to hear more, but leave the small children behind, because I'm taking the filter (what little there is) off for a few minutes:

Tuesday News: "It's not evil enough"

REPUBLICAN LEADERS COURT FREEDOM CAUCUS EXTREMISTS ON HEALTH CARE BILL: House Republican leadership released a slew of amendments to the Obamacare replacement bill on Monday evening, an attempt to wrangle conservative votes for the party’s biggest campaign promise which is set to go in front of the full House for a vote on Thursday. The amendments include overtures to conservatives such as immediately halting the ability for new states to expand Medicaid and allowing states to implement “reasonable” work requirements for Medicaid recipients. But some conservative members were undeterred by the proposed changes, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C, said he thinks the legislation won’t have enough votes to pass. If 21 Republicans vote against the bill, it will fail.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article139774798.html

Duke Energy to add more carcinogens to already impaired waters

I guess they're not worried about the EPA anymore:

As part of its 2015 criminal plea agreement, Duke Energy admitted that bromide discharged into rivers and lakes from its coal ash operations have caused carcinogens to form in downstream drinking water systems. Some of these carcinogens are so dangerous that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set their health protection goal at zero, meaning that people should not be exposed to any level of these pollutants.

Yet instead of taking responsible action to halt these bromide discharges, Duke Energy is proposing to add even more bromides to its coal ash basins, through changes to its coal plant operations. Duke Energy claims that the additional bromides will reduce emissions of mercury from its smokestacks. The utility is choosing this bromide production despite the fact that other modern, widely-used technologies—such as baghouses—are available to control mercury emissions without causing carcinogens downstream.

It's actually no comfort in realizing this is probably happening all over the United States, in the wake of the Trump admin's systematic destruction of the EPA. Hopefully our new DEQ will be able to bring some relief from the inevitable deterioration of our environment, but they've been cut to the bone also.

Monday News: United in resistance

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CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS HOLDS SUMMIT OF LIBERALS AND PROGRESSIVES: The session, organized and co-hosted by the Center for American Progress’ political arm, is ostensibly meant to share best practices with these volunteer-driven groups, on subjects ranging from fundraising to organizing. But it also reflects the effort underway within the Democratic Party, where operatives who have battled Republicans for years are now trying to cooperate with newcomers who have been more successful capturing the energy of anti-Trump Americans than the professional class was during the 2016 campaign. “We’re trying to merge these two worlds, between the institutional left and the energy in the field,” said Emily Tisch Sussman, the Center for American Progress’ senior director of campaigns and advocacy. “I don’t think we should treat them as separate, but we have to be intentional about how we merge them.” It’s a process both sides say needs to go well if Democrats want to turn the so-called anti-Trump “resistance” movement into a force that can win elections.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article139232523.html

Trump's foreign "policy" is both clumsy and dangerous

The Tweeter-In-Chief needs a time-out in the corner:

Trump’s public appearances with Merkel betrayed an awkwardness between the two leaders, including during two widely remarked upon appearances in the White House. In one, the leaders failed to stage a handshake for cameras in the Oval Office, and in another Merkel looked baffled by comments made by Trump during a joint press conference. Before the visit Trump had repeatedly called Merkel’s policies “insane” and a “disaster” for Germany.

Trump’s second tweet accused Germany directly of not paying enough to the security alliance. In a joint press conference on Friday, Trump expressed “strong support” for Nato but reiterated his belief that member nations do not contribute a “fair share”. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States,” he said. “These nations must pay what they owe.”

Welp, this is apparently what a whole lot of Americans wanted, a "leader" who speaks his mind, even if what he says has little roots in the truth and will very likely drag us into multiple military conflicts before his next State of the Union address. What Trump doesn't understand could fill a supertanker, but one of those things is this: The effectiveness of NATO as a deterrent has always been the unflinching support of the United States for its treaty partners. If that support is called into question, especially by the US President, the deterrent itself evaporates:

Sunday News: Counting the costs of institutional bigotry

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A YEAR OF SHAME AND EMBARRASSMENT THANKS TO HB2: As North Carolina marks the first anniversary of House Bill 2 next week, an ongoing political stalemate is making a prolonged economic backlash – and future anniversaries – likely. The law, widely criticized as anti-LGBT, has cost North Carolinians jobs, money, performances and events, including this month’s NCAA basketball tournament. “The longer it stays on our books, the more difficulty we will have repairing the damage,” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said last week. “It’s hard to quantify the damage.” Through research and interviews with economists, Politifact estimates that HB2 has cost North Carolina between $450 million and $630 million. But in perspective, that accounts for 0.1 percent of the state’s annual gross domestic product, notes Michael Walden, an N.C. State economist. “So we know that it’s hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs, but it could be worse than that because what we’re not getting is what we don’t know,” Cooper said.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article13...

The battles over Durham-Orange Light Rail project continue

And the naysayers are getting creative:

To kill the project, opponents know they can’t appear to be anti-transit. Instead, they must convince you there are better, cheaper options. In their latest campaign, opponents revive their old claim that bus rapid transit (BRT), which uses buses on dedicated roadways instead of trains on light rail tracks, is inherently better and dramatically cheaper. But, they say, stubborn train lovers at GoTriangle refuse to examine a bus alternative.

Dedicated roadways for buses makes about as much sense as personal "pods" that individuals can hop into like their own little taxicabs. The traffic issues in driving a car from downtown Durham to downtown Chapel Hill and back have become horrendous, and further development *is* going to happen, whether people want it to or not. Between the two hospitals (Duke, UNC) alone, there are some 17,000 employees. That's not counting other University staff from the schools themselves. Light rail may not solve all the transportation/parking problems, but it is a critical element of the solution. Here's more from Orange Politics' Molly de Marco:

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