Rural Wifi investment

For some time I have pointed out that the best way to ensure economic development in our rural counties is to provide broadband wifi services to those areas. Free access would be ideal, but fees for service will most likely be necessary.

A letter to the editor in Saturday's News and Observer demonstrates a need for some kind of program in North Carolina that would bring wifi service to our countryside. The letter writer feels she is "sealed off from the digital age, because broadband service has not been extended to our homes."

We live in an area of Chatham County where there is no DSL or cable and weak cell signals. The best service one can get is satellite or a trip of 10-15 miles to a library when it is open…

Another straw on the camel's back: Moral Monday appeal successful

The first Moral Monday arrest case to make it to Superior Court has resulted in the trumped-up charges being dismissed.

A Wake County Superior Court judge has dismissed a trespassing case against a protester arrested at the N.C. Legislative Building in the summer of 2013 in a ruling that could have broader effect on cases still in the judicial pipeline.

Judge Donald Stephens, the chief resident Superior Court judge of Wake County, ruled the constitutional rights of Leonard Beeghley were violated when he was arrested on June 17, 2013, demonstrating against the General Assembly's new agenda.

As in recent District Court cases, the judge cited the recent US Supreme Court ruling about protests on public property.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision in June has had an impact on the cases in recent weeks.

Another NC Death Row inmate about to be exonerated

The "process" is not working, Speaker Tillis, it's inherently flawed:

Then the lawyers started pushing for what they knew must exist – police files, interview notes, State Bureau of Investigation reports and physical evidence. Slowly, the Whiteville Police Department produced files and evidence that had never been given to the lawyers defending Norfolk “Fuzzy” Best at his 1993 trial.

The lawyers dug up several folders of notes and reports from the Whiteville Police Department, including a tip about a suspicious car near the murder scene 12 hours before the bodies were found. The car turned out to be stolen. The thief, a habitual felon with a lengthy criminal record in several states, reportedly told friends that he had killed an elderly couple in Whiteville.

Bolding mine. Proponents of the death penalty often claim the "process" of convicting capital offenders is thorough and fair, but that appears to be mostly supposition and wishful thinking. In reality, law enforcement often latches onto the first suspect that emerges in the investigation, and then puts on blinders as they compile evidence (real or circumstantial) on their target. Anything that leads away from said suspect is a distraction to be avoided. And then hidden from prying eyes, apparently:

In opposition to the "waive jury trial" Amendment on November's ballot

Surrendering rights might not be wise:

The American jury has long been a protection of the lives and liberties of her citizens. The jury system protects our individual freedom by prohibiting the government from taking us to prison unless it can prove to every single person on that jury that we have committed a crime. This jury of our peers must not only be unanimous in their judgment, but must agree "beyond a reasonable doubt," the highest legal burden in our judicial system. The fundamental protection of the jury system allows each us to go about our daily lives secure in the knowledge that, if faced with a criminal accusation, our liberty will ultimately be in the hands of our fellow citizens.

As I mentioned on Facebook recently (which is ironic), after observing the herd-like behavior and general lack of discernment exhibited by many of my "peers" on social networking sites, I don't have nearly as much faith in the jury process as I once held. That being said, bench trials might be more streamlined, less dramatic, and of course cheaper; but there's only one arse sitting on that bench. And you better hope the owner of that arse has got the smarts and integrity to see and understand the truth.

Coal Ash Wednesday: No signature required

This'll show 'em:

Gov. Pat McCrory announced Tuesday afternoon he'll allow legislation to clean up coal ash in North Carolina to become law without his signature. The proposal was the topic of tense debate last month between House and Senate leaders, who sent the governor a compromise plan in the final hours of the 2014 legislative session.

According to a statement released by McCrory's office late Tuesday, the governor supports "continued action" on the clean up, but he has concerns about the constitutionality of the oversight commission created by the legislation. The majority of members on that independent panel will be appointed by state lawmakers, not the governor. "While there are great pieces to this legislation, there are major deficiencies that need to be corrected,” McCrory said in the statement.

Then they should be corrected, not allowed to become law. I understand (as Laura Leslie mentioned on Facebook yesterday) due to political concerns McCrory feels like he has no choice. Just like many Legislators who voted for it, going against this bill could anger the public, who simply want something done on this issue. But it's not going to protect them as much as they think it will, and that false sense of security could end up being more dangerous in the long run than sending it back to the kitchen.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

You may have thought it was over, but it's never over:

Back in the good old days (when Dems were in charge) a meeting like this would hardly register on my consciousness. But Republicans never miss a chance to punish those who can least afford punishment, and I can see the Medicaid rolls being "cleansed" even further in the near future.

Muni broadband battle continues in NC

Wilson seeks help from the FCC:

City of Wilson leaders filed a 59-page petition with the FCC in July asking for the overturn of state law that restricts the expansion of the city’s broadband network, Greenlight. The petition was filed several months after FCC’s chairman Tom Wheeler committed to possibly overruling state laws that restrict government-run networks.

Since the city’s filing, close to 150 individuals, organizations and companies — including AT&T and CenturyLink — have filed comments with the FCC. USTelecom, which represents communication giants including Verizon, also filed comments in opposition. Netflix, on the other hand, wrote in favor of the city’s petition. "Netflix agrees with Chairman Wheeler that the commission has the authority to preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband, and in appropriate circumstances, should wield that authority,” Netflix wrote.

Take it from somebody who lives right on the county line: the utilities and services provided to me from the other side of that county line are critical. It shouldn't even be a consideration in this broadband issue. And neither should the paternalistic fear-mongering from Pope's puppet gallery:

Tillis following playbook with birth control comments

Originality is not the Speaker's strong suit:

Planned Parenthood, for one, was unwilling to play ball. "If Thom Tillis and others were serious about expanding access to birth control, they wouldn’t be trying to repeal the no-co-pay birth control benefit or cut women off from Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services. This is simply a cynical political attempt to whitewash his terrible record and agenda for women's health,” Melissa Reed, a spokeswoman for the Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund, said in a statement released after the North Carolina debate.

Reed noted the convergence of support for over-the-counter birth control pills by the Republican candidates and Planned Parenthood. “At the same time, it is important that voters know the truth about these claims by politicians running for office: They are empty gestures. In a desperate attempt to appeal to women voters, Thom Tillis is clearly following in the footsteps of other out of touch candidates like Cory Gardner in Colorado and Ed Gillespie in Virginia,” she said.

It's a very shallow tactic, and hopefully mainstream media won't try to cast this as "softening on women's reproductive issues" or any other such equestrian droppings. Tillis and his GOP colleagues in the NCGA have gone above and beyond in their war on women, and if they are ashamed of that record (as they should be) there's another session coming up next year in which they can try to make amends. But I have a feeling some of them won't get another chance.

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