NC GOP

FCC smacks down NC Legislature's bullying of cities

Thanks to the guts and determination of the City of Wilson, muni broadband is back on the menu:

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commissions voted 3-2 to override laws preventing Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C. from expanding the high-speed Internet service the cities already offer to some residents. The vote could embolden other cities that feel they have been underserved by traditional Internet providers, potentially undermining years of lobbying by the telecommunications industry.

The FCC's intervention in Wilson, N.C. is even more dramatic, overturning a range of state laws that the city says artificially limits competition. One provision in North Carolina law bars cities from charging prices that are lower than the private incumbents'. Another requires municipalities to gain public support for a city-run service through a special referendum before borrowing money to fund such efforts. A third effectively prohibits cities from building in "unserved areas," according to Wilson's petition.

Bolding mine. It's becoming almost impossible to keep up with all of the laws Republicans passed that have been blocked, overturned, or have come under serious scrutiny for Constitutionality. Any sane person would realize they were heading in the wrong direction with these facts staring them in the face, but the GOP is notorious for creating conspiracies of strawmen to explain their failures and poor judgment. They're going to have to raise taxes just to pay their legal fees for defending all their mistakes.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Friday news dump with Kool-Aid chaser

It's pretty bad when Florida doesn't approve of your behavior:

The country's biggest power company, the parent of Duke Energy Florida, invoked a classic PR move last week by issuing a news release at 4:20 p.m. on a Friday, shortly before the end of the workweek.
That timing often signals something bad has happened that the culprit hopes will get ignored in the weekend crush.

After reading Duke's spin, I felt like I should send flowers to the company for going the extra mile in hard times. But let's skip the Kool-Aid and look at what Duke chose not to acknowledge. Duke's is not pursuing a "proposed agreement" but pleading guilty to multiple environmental crimes — nine violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

All things considered, it is a fairly hefty fine for environmental wrongdoings. The massive TVA spill of a few years before, which released over a billion gallons of coal ash downstream, only cost the TVA $11.5 million in fines and $27.8 million in a class-action suit from affected landowners. But the funny (or not-so-funny) thing about comparing the two is: TVA has cleaned up and properly disposed of between 75%-85% of that 1.1 billion gallons spilled, while Duke Energy left over 90% of their spilled coal ash in the Dan River. One of many reasons their $102 million in fines is simply not enough.

Charters and the resegregation of NC students

The dark side of parental choice:

One reason is that as charters have grown, they haven’t met the needs of low-income and special needs populations. By law they are expected to serve minority populations, but they are not required, like traditional schools, to offer transportation and subsidized meals. In practicality, that’s a deterrent to non-white families. “There is no doubt that the charter school system in this state is contributing to racial segregation,” Ladd says.

She said white parents, in picking out charter schools, are concerned as much about minority enrollment – they prefer less than 20 percent – as about quality. Satisfaction surveys and re-enrollment trends, she said, show higher satisfaction with charters among white families than minorities.

And I'm sure more than a few of them would prefer zero percent, whether they would admit to it or not. And their children, more than any of their peers, would benefit from engaging in a diverse school population. It's the best (only?) way to break the cycle of generational prejudice. An observation which I'm sure would have the Puppets grasping for their smelling salts:

For Duke Energy, everything is negotiable

Even their "punishment" for crimes committed:

Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility, accusing the company of violating the federal Clean Water Act by illegally dumping millions of gallons of toxic coal ash into the Dan River in North Carolina. They also accused the company of failing to maintain equipment around at least two plants.

Duke said Friday that it had already negotiated a plea agreement under which it expected to pay fines.

And in true cart-before-the-horse fashion, the fines just happen to be slightly larger than the dollar figure Duke decided it was prepared to pay...when? A few months ago? If this investigation and the charges that resulted are supposed to make us feel better about how justice is rendered in this country, it's a big, fat failure.

Astroturfing NC's offshore drilling debate

The American Petroleum Institute's puppets proxies invade Wrightsville Beach forum:

About 160 people showed up at the Coastline Conference and Events Center, the former train station, to grab a free sandwich at what was billed as an Offshore Energy Luncheon. The N.C. Energy Forum provided the eats. If you never heard of it, you’re forgiven. It is one of 27 state groups that are part of a larger effort known as America’s Energy Forum, which notes on its website that it is comprised of “concerned citizens committed to two goals – achieving energy security for our country and holding our elected officials more accountable in shaping energy policies.”

Some have disparaged the forum as a fake grassroots group. The Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch calls it an “astroturf” project of the American Petroleum Institute, or API, the largest trade group of oil and gas producers in the country. API admits to it, though you have to search pretty hard to find it. There it is, though, at the bottom of the forum website in tiny type: “Sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute.” David McGowan III, the executive director of the N.C. Petroleum Council – an API group – later confirmed the affiliation in an email.

Unfortunately, a certain portion of our population have always been prone to believe unscrupulous salesmen and the "magic elixirs" they peddle, and the fossil fuel industry has become a master at creating organizations like Americans For Prosperity and other groups who use naïve people to help them increase their profit margins. It's all about the dogma, usually with a flag flapping in the background:

Charlotte the next LGBT rights battleground

Couching bigotry in pseudo-intellectual jargon:

One of North Carolina’s leading anti-LGBT activists has told a slew of high-profile conservative leaders and attorneys that opposing a proposed non-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte will be a “good way to bring in business.” Fitzgerald made her remark in an email on Tuesday in response to Tom Ashcraft, a former U.S. attorney in Charlotte.

Ashcraft had called the LGBT-inclusive efforts “madness” in his original message to Fitzgerald. “May we conclude that the U.S. cultural revolution, started on multiple fronts in the 1960s, has begun to turn on itself? Or would this description be more accurate: The dictatorship of relativism shreds reason, leads to madness,” Ashcraft wrote to Fitzgerald.

I think it's safe to say, if you consider having the freedom to discriminate against somebody a "reasonable" position, you have already been struck by "madness" yourself. And if you took that same twisted mindset into the courtroom back when you were a prosecutor, there's no telling how many travesties of justice resulted from it.

Mr. Pittenger goes to Israel

And disparages his own President with idiotic historic references:

The Charlotte Republican accused the president of appeasement in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

“Benjamin Netanyahu is the Winston Churchill of our day, warning the world about Iran,” Pittenger said. “President Obama is the Neville Chamberlain of our day, in seemingly total denial of the enormous risk and … (how vulnerable) we are to their nuclear capabilities.”

This idiot has no business sitting in Congress, much less on any committees that have any national security implications. Obama hasn't "given" anything to Iran, and he's actually bullied the rest of the world into not doing business with the regime in Tehran. As opposed to the right wing's hero Ronald Reagan, who gave Iran very heavy weapons:

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