US DOJ: Voting law changes were race-based

Tracing the origins of voter suppression tactics:

The Justice Department alleged a “race-based purpose” to the new law in a legal brief. Studies the department cited show that minority and low-income voters are more likely to use same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting because they are less likely to own a car or have flexible working hours. These voters are also more likely to vote for Democratic candidates.

"If you pick out precisely the way minority voters are engaging with the process, that's intentionally treating minority voters differently," Justin Levitt, the head of the Justice Department’s voting unit, said in an interview.

There's no doubt the goal of Republicans was to stifle or obstruct potential Dem voters, especially minorities. And it wasn't (isn't) just a Legislative effort; Republican-led county boards of election have shuffled voting sites to add more distance between minority and college students and their authorized voting locations, something Bob Rucho knows good and well but refuses to acknowledge:

Sunday News: R.I.P., Senator

FORMER U.S. SENATOR ROBERT MORGAN DIES (WRAL-TV) -- Robert Morgan became a U.S. Senator during the years in Washington after the Watergate scandal rocked the country. On a cold December morning in 1974 when Morgan showed up to the Russell Senate Office Building he met a young Don Vaughan with a handshake. Vaughan was looking for a job and hoped to make a good impression on the new senator. "About an hour later, I was a member of the United States Senate staff," Vaughan said in a phone call on Saturday. It's been more than four decades since Vaughan met Morgan and was offered that job. But the personable senator helped shape more than just Vaughan's own time as a North Carolina state senator. Morgan died on Saturday. He was 90 years old.
http://www.wral.com/former-us-senator-lillington-native-robert-morgan-dies/15855727/

Duke Energy parrots squawk about saving people money

Van der Vaart is still confused about what his job really is:

This bill says Duke can seek permission to leave ash where it is, if it repairs dams and reduces other risks at its coal ash basins - something environmentalists oppose.

“The new coal ash law establishes a firm timetable for providing permanent water connections and repairing dams at coal ash ponds,” DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart said in a statement. “It also protects customers by allowing for less expensive methods of closing coal ash ponds that won’t be passed on in the form of higher electricity prices.”

The fact van der Vaart is even talking about economics should scare the bejesus out of people in our state, and it should also be a source of major concern for the General Assembly. But there's little doubt their decision to let go of the Coal Ash Commission was at least partly an effort to suck up to the campaign contribution behemoth known as Duke Energy. It's like watching a couple of academically-challenged football players trying to impress the Homecoming Queen, only less amusing. And the fact this development came just one month after a real scientific assessment exposed the depth and breadth of the problem is even less amusing:

Saturday News: Mike who?

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NCGOP CHAIRMAN PRAISES TRUMP'S VP PICK (WRAL-TV) -- North Carolina Republican Party officials are gearing up for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week, and Chairman Robin Hayes said the selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as Donald Trump's running mate will provide momentum for the party.
http://www.wral.com/ncgop-chairman-praises-trump-s-vp-pick/15854322/

PENCE GIVES GOP TICKET ESTABLISHMENT CRED, NC REPUBLICANS SAY (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In choosing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump chose an experienced politician who has defined himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article89921212.html

Apodaca the latest to traverse NC's unethical revolving door

Anticipating the pot of gold at the end of the unimpressive legislative career:

Powerful Senate Rules Chair Tom Apodaca announced his resignation from the Senate Friday morning but it wasn’t much of a surprise and he will likely be back in Raleigh soon enough. Rumors surfaced recently that Apodaca was interested in becoming a lobbyist and would resign this month so he’d be able to lobby his former colleagues when the 2017 session begins in January.

State law requires a six month cooling off period before legislators can register to lobby and it’s become more common for lawmakers interested in cashing in to resign halfway through the second year of their term so they can lobby in the next session.

One of the lesser-used definitions of "Corruption" deals with biological necrosis; decay and putrefaction. But it was also the etymological origin of the other, more common usages, because this behavior tends to spread throughout a political organism just like a biological one. Why are retired Legislators so successful at lobbying? Because many current Legislators are eyeing that as a future career option, and helping their former colleagues is an easy way to help themselves a few years down the road. As long as they are effective, those jobs will be waiting for others. This is the crux of the ethical conflict; the perpetuation of undue influence over public policy by private-sector players. And until that revolving door is locked, the cycle of corruption will continue.

McCrory's police cam language right out of Orwell

The Ministry of Truth would be impressed:

Not only did Gov. Pat McCrory sign a bill to block release of police body camera videos to the public, but he justified his decision with misleading doublespeak. “Governor McCrory signs legislation to promote transparency and safety for law enforcement and the public,” trumpets the headline of a news release his office distributed Monday afternoon.

“This legislation fulfills our commitment to protect our law enforcement and gain public trust by promoting uniformity, clarity and transparency,” McCrory said in the release.

When you feel the need to clarify a news story with "This is not the Onion," you just might be living in North Carolina. Sheesh.

Friday News: It's WBTV, in case you've been in a coma for years

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MOORE EYES LIBEL SUIT AGAINST UNDISCLOSED MEDIA OUTLET (Gaston Gazette) -- House Speaker Tim Moore has paid a New York City law firm more than $22,000 to prepare a possible libel lawsuit against a North Carolina media outlet. The Kings Mountain Republican said Thursday he believes the media outlet intentionally tried to defame him with its coverage. Moore declined to name the media organization on Thursday or what the incident involved. He confirmed that his target was neither The Gaston Gazette nor The Shelby Star, or any of the other publications owned by parent company, Gate House Media. He confirmed earlier reports that he also was not targeting The Charlotte Observer or The News & Observer in Raleigh. "At this point, because there are discussions ongoing between the attorneys on both sides I don't want to name the outlet," said Moore, who has a law practice in Cleveland County.
http://www.shelbystar.com/news/20160714/speaker-eyes-libel-suit

Yes, it *is* easier to get a gun than cast a vote in NC

She's talking about this quote from Reverend (Dr.) Barber: "It is easier to get a gun in America than a voting card." When looking at the "ease" of which something can be done, the amount of time involved is a primary factor. If you want to purchase a shotgun or rifle (which includes semi-automatic AK-47/AR-15) on November 8th, just go on that day and walk out with it. If you want to buy a handgun on that day, you'll need a sheriff's permit before you go, which usually takes just 3-5 days. If you want to vote on November 8th however, you have to get your authorization almost a month before that date:

"Vocational" high school being built in New Hanover County

What was that about government choosing winners and losers?

The local district announced last week the N.C. House of Representatives included a $1 million grant for the career-technical education (CTE) campus, which could begin welcoming students as early as August 2017. The money has been earmarked for planning and design phases of the project, according to a New Hanover County Schools spokeswoman. The oft-discussed CTE concept is one that has been particularly advocated and promoted by Rep. Ted Davis, a Republican who represents the county.

Shaped by local demand for skilled, workforce-ready employees, the CTE school will provide hands-on training in a variety of fields, including mechanics, construction, hospitality, food service and public safety. Enrolled students will also have the option of taking CFCC courses in their chosen career path while still in high school.

I'm tempted to use the word "Drones" when describing what Republicans are trying to produce with this detour from educational growth, but at least drones can fly. And while I do see the benefit of high schoolers at least contemplating what their career paths might be, the difference in maturity and outlook between a sophomore and a senior is such a huge transition, giving the former the ability to "lock" him- or her-self into a particular vocation seems less about freedom and more about taking advantage of the confusion of youth. If Republicans hadn't swept away registering 17 year-olds to vote, I might be less suspicious. But taken in context, their motives are highly suspect.

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