Saturday News: Charter pirates

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NEW STUDY SHOWS NC'S CHARTERS TAKING SIGNIFICANT FUNDS FROM TRADITIONAL SCHOOLS: The paper, released in December, found that charter schools had “significant negative fiscal” effects on Durham Public Schools, the Orange County school system and four other North Carolina districts studied in the report. In the case of Durham, the study found that charter schools are creating a fiscal burden for the district between $500 and $700 per student. “(North Carolina) is imposing additional costs on local districts by authorizing charter schools,” Duke University professor Helen Ladd and University of Rochester professor John Singleton wrote in the study. “As we have shown, the negative financial impacts are large, particularly in the urban and densely populated district of Durham but also in some of the non-urban counties as well. Moreover, the continued expansion of charter schools in non-urban districts is likely to impose an increasingly large fiscal burden over time.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article194381019.html

The difficulties of getting young people engaged in political activism

Answering the question that has been circulating lately:

As Women's March organizers prepare for another round of events on Jan. 20 and 21, research shows that few young people share Hahn's excitement for political activism and public protests. Americans ages 15 to 24 are still figuring out their preferred approach to politics, according to the PRRI/MTV 2017 National Youth Survey, released this week.

"A majority of young people describe recent protests and marches negatively, as 'pointless' (16 percent), 'counterproductive' (16 percent), 'divisive' (12 percent), or 'violent' (11 percent.) Only about one-third ascribe positive value to them, saying they are 'inspiring' (16 percent), 'powerful' (16 percent), or 'effective' (4 percent)," the survey reported.

Some of these findings are not really surprising. As much as I hate to use the term "woke," that transformation did not really happen to me until I was in my forties. I may have voted regularly since my late teens, but my knowledge of what I was voting for (or against) was pretty thin, to say the least. At our County Party meeting last night, aside from a couple of small children, the youngest people there were in their thirties, and they were a distinct minority. But before we launch into a "What are we doing wrong?" exercise, it may be them and not us:

Friday News: Racist-In-Chief

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TRUMP FACING INTERNATIONAL BACKLASH OVER REFERRING TO AFRICAN COUNTRIES AS "SHITHOLES.": The U.N. human rights office says President Donald Trump's reported use of an expletive to describe Africa and other countries could "potentially damage and disrupt the lives of many people." Repeating the term attributed to Trump a day earlier, spokesman Rupert Colville says that "you cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 'shitholes'." Colville said Friday that the comments, if confirmed, were "shocking and shameful" and "I'm sorry, but there's no other word one can use but racist." People briefed on the extraordinary Oval Office conversation confirmed the remarks, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss it publicly. White House spokesman Raj Shah did not deny them when asked.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/world/article194333599.html

Robin Hayes says NC's districts not gerrymandered because they don't look like monsters?

I think he might have fallen during a shuffleboard mishap:

According to the leader of the North Carolina GOP, detecting gerrymandering should be as easy as checking under your bed at night. If you see something that looks like a monster, you’re in trouble. Robin Hayes, chairman of the NC Republican Party, is among many Republicans upset that a panel of federal judges on Tuesday struck down North Carolina’s election districts for U.S. Congress as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

“A ‘gerrymander’ is by definition and common understanding, a strange looking ‘monster’ drawing. This map is clearly not that,” Hayes said. He noted that the maps kept 87 of North Carolina’s 100 counties whole and divided only 12 precincts.

Right, because Elbridge Gerry's map was made to look like a dragon by a clever 19th Century political cartoonist, that is now the standard we're supposed to use. The Monster standard. I think Hayes has gone around the bend, hopped on a unicorn, and rode hard for the border between eccentric and bat-shit crazy. But never fear, NCPOL folks are ever ready to jump on an opportunity for a few laughs:

Thursday News: Heartless

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TRUMP MOVING TO REQUIRE SOME MEDICAID RECIPIENTS GET A JOB OR LOSE COVERAGE: In a major policy shift that could affect millions of low-income people, the Trump administration said Thursday it is offering a path for states that want to seek work requirements on Medicaid recipients. The administration said 10 states — mostly conservative ones — have applied for waivers involving work requirements or community involvement. They are: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. Advocates for low-income people say they expect Kentucky's waiver to be approved shortly. "It is a very major change in Medicaid that for the first time would allow people to be cut off for not meeting a work requirement, regardless of the hardship they may suffer," said Judy Solomon of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for the poor. The Obama administration would have never approved such waivers, she added.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/article194107449.html

Black Women Lead

If you caught Oprah’s amazing speech at the Golden Globes, you might be one of those jumping on the Oprah For President bandwagon. Regardless of how you feel about that, one thing is clear: when black women run for office, they win!

Across the country, turnout among black women is higher than for any other demographic group. In 2016, turnout for black women in NC was 70% - nearly matching the registration rate for white women of 72%.

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy agrees to pay fines for leaky basins

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But their solution for stopping the leaks may be worse than the leaks themselves:

The country's largest electricity company will pay an $84,000 penalty and work to stop potentially toxic waste from three North Carolina coal-burning power plants from leaking into groundwater and nearby rivers under a deal with state regulators announced Tuesday.

The deal, already signed by a Duke Energy Corp. executive, includes the penalty for nearly two dozen leaky spots detected at coal ash pits at the Rogers, Allen and Marshall power plants before 2015. The agreement acknowledges the leaks from unlined, earthen holding basins at the power plants into the adjoining Catawba and Broad rivers, a violation of pollution laws.

Here's the proposed consent order itself, which is in a pdf format that does not allow copy-and-paste so you'll have to go and read the thing. While this does represent some progress, there are also some trade-offs in there with which I am not happy. The first (and least of my concerns) is that after this agreement is signed and agreed to, those toxic leaks will fall under the category of "permitted" discharges. Meaning, if their future fixes don't work like they think they will, it will be a lot harder to punish Duke Energy for the continued contamination. But it's really the fix itself that has me worried:

Wednesday News: Auto-erotic asphyxiation?

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NC LOSES OUT ON ANOTHER AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURING PLANT AS TOYOTA CHOOSES ALABAMA: North Carolina appears to have lost out on its latest bid for a vehicle manufacturing plant, with numerous media outlets reporting that Toyota and Mazda plan to build a $1.6 billion plant in Alabama. "News of our economic success seems to be a daily occurrence," she said. "Your dedication, your commitment to hard work and our skilled workforce, companies choose Alabama because of your ability to work hard and be dependable." North Carolina has tried for years to land an auto plant, creating four "mega-sites" ready to accommodate a large manufacturing operation and expanding state incentive funds to provide more money to lure "transformative projects." But all of the state's efforts have been in vain, with companies from Volvo to Mercedes to Hyundai picking other sites in the Southeast. The companies were reportedly seeking $1 billion in incentives from state and local governments to land the plant.
http://www.wral.com/reports-nc-loses-toyota-mazda-car-plant-to-alabama/17245494/

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