Fracking the classroom: drilling in the name of education

Drill here, drill now, and simply call it training:

Central Carolina Community College is expanding its course offerings, having recently opened a new health sciences building in Lillington and looking into new classes on operating machinery for hydraulic fracturing and other types of drilling.

About $250,000 of that total either has been or will be raised through grants, officials have said. They plan on raising the remaining half a million through donations from the private sector as well as the three county governments in the college's service area. And Kirk Bradley, the Sanford businessman who is leading the fundraising efforts for the Central Carolina Works program, said they're well on their way.

Which may shed some light on why Mike Stone had four CCCC Trustees removed from their positions earlier this year, a blatantly partisan move to cleanse the board of Democrats. Another well-known fracking cheerleader is knee-deep in this story:

Will 2014 be the year of economic despair?

For many families, the answer is a disconsolate nod:

The expiration of the federal benefit program this weekend means that 1.3 million people who had been receiving assistance will be cut off this week. In the first half of 2014, another estimated 1.9 million people who would otherwise have qualified for federal benefits will find that there is no federal program to turn to. By the second half of 2014, that tally will rise by another 1.6 million people.

Long-term unemployment is high because there are not enough jobs, not because millions of Americans have suddenly lost their work ethic. At last count, there were still nearly three unemployed people for every job opening; in a healthy economy, the ratio is about one to one. At last count, the average spell of unemployment was 37.2 weeks, nearly 20 weeks longer than the prerecession level. And as demonstrated in North Carolina, which has cut state jobless benefits and effectively rejected federal benefits, slashing aid has led not to more jobs but to despair.

Elections have consequences, but it's not the political class that suffers the most.

NC GOP continues to squeeze money out of the poor

Taxing the wheels off mobile homes:

The mobile home tax now is capped at $300 for single-wides and $600 for double-wides. Starting Jan. 1, the sales tax on a $40,600 mobile home will be $1,928.50; the sales tax on a $74,200 mobile home will be $3,524.50.

“It’s a substantial increase, there’s no doubt about it,” said Brad Lovin, executive director of the N.C. Manufactured and Modular Homebuilders Association. “It’s already a struggling market, so this certainly is going to hurt some.”

Not only is this industry feeling the effects of the GOP's disdain for those on the lower end of the economic scale, the NC Hometicks (realtors) have been wielding undue influence in the General Assembly for years, and they would love nothing better than to outlaw mobile homes for good, forcing people to buy/rent their stationary and over-priced structures.

NC polticians funded by "criminal gambling enterprise" per the Oklahoma AG

Gee, I don't know, maybe someone here should look into this:

A checking account used last year to make $235,000 in donations to the campaigns of dozens of North Carolina politicians contained the laundered proceeds of a criminal gambling enterprise, according to Oklahoma's top law enforcement official.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt finalized an agreement last month in which Burns agreed to forfeit $3.5 million from seized bank accounts. Court filings show $1 million of that forfeited money comes from the same checking account Burns used to send political donations to the campaigns of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger.

And several other candidates, including some Democrats. And a whopping $55,000 straight to the NC Republican Party, just a handful of days before the 2012 election. Hat-tip to WRAL for keeping tabs on this. Somebody has to.

NC Republicans open the floodgate for campaign donations

And close the blinds on where that money is coming from:

Starting Jan. 1, state candidates and political action committees can take maximum contributions of $5,000 per election, up from the current $4,000 benchmark. The top donation to judicial candidates will leap to the same level from the current $1,000 plateau.

Other campaign finance shifts taking effect in the new year include: Allowing political parties to use corporate donations to pay up to three staffers whose primary duties are administrative in nature. Corporate donations are currently limited to building expenses, repealing the state’s pioneering “stand by your ad” law that required candidates to declare in advertisements that they “approved this message,” and ending the requirement that outside groups identify their five largest donors on political print advertisements.

This is another one of those issues where the vast majority of voters would prefer less money and more disclosure. In a perfect world, they would punish Republicans for making the political process even more sleazy, but we don't live there. If we did, people like David Lewis would be a laughing stock:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Just a few friendly reminders as you're stacking the gifts under the tree:

The NC GOP Christmas album!

The long-awaited (?) NC GOP Christmas album is here, just in time for Christmas!

Featuring members of the NC Hall of Shame, you'll find such holiday classics as:

  • The Twelve Days of McChristmas
  • Joy to the Wos
  • The Little Dumber Boy
  • Dan Forest is Comin’ to Town
  • Rucho the Red-Faced Senator
  • Phillip Navidad
  • Have Yourself a Jerry Tillman Christmas
  • Jingle Bell Brock
  • Auld Rayne Brown
  • Do You Fear What I Fear?

and dozens of others. Grab your guitar and visit BackwardNC for the entire collection!

Moral Monday protests resume today

It's never too late for redemption:

The state NAACP chapter and allied groups plan a Monday afternoon rally in another version of the protests that led to the arrest of hundreds of peaceful protesters during the spring and summer.

The groups want lawmakers to restore unemployment benefits reduced this year and to expand Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of additional people, as the federal health care overhaul allows.

This is a follow-up to a petition with thousands of signatures that was delivered to McCrory several weeks ago, calling for him to convene a special session of the General Assembly to address some mistakes they made in the Summer. Mistakes that have brought unnecessary pain and suffering to hundreds of thousands of the people they are supposed to serve and protect. The location of the rally will have to be decided by the courts today, as the Republicans are trying to silence this group via permitting:

GOP non-solutions: Jordan Lake "fix" nothing more than a Band-Aid

And it's wasting taxpayer dollars better spent elsewhere:

The state project to use SolarBee circulators is a Band-Aid being sold by the General Assembly and the McCrory administration as a cheap fix for a polluted lake. Jordan Lake is huge. The amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, cyanobacteria, septic, auto, dirt and chemical runoff is unprecedented and growing. Jordan has been rated as “impaired” for years. Adding machines to stir up water may prevent some algae from blooming in a few places but won’t actually clean the water or reduce the pollutants. They won’t clean up toxins downstream, either.

As usual, Greg hits several nails on their heads in this piece. Jordan Lake's problem is an incredibly complex issue. Just as the nutrients and toxins didn't originate in the middle of the Lake, the solutions won't be found there, either. The way we develop land for homes and businesses, our approach to guarding against high flood waters, the methods we employ in water treatment and the disposal (discharge) of the slurry of crap we clean from water, and then toss right back in. Many things need to change, not the least of which is our head-in-the-sand belief that doing nothing is a viable and justifiable option. Negligence should never be an option, and neither should wasting money on dubious silver-painted bullets.

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