Tuesday News: Back off, Kobach

TRUMP "COMMISSION" ON VOTER FRAUD UNDER PENDING RESTRAINING ORDER OVER REQUESTED INFORMATION: The federal voter fraud commission is asking states not to send any voter information to Washington while a judge considers a request to stop the data collection. North Carolina has not sent any voter information to the commission. It had planned to send information that is publicly available. The Electronic Privacy Information Center is suing to stop the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity from collecting voter data. A federal judge held a hearing to consider a temporary restraining order last week. The presidential commission asked states’ elections officials Monday not to send anything until the judge rules.

HRC LAUNCHES MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR CAMPAIGN FOR EQUALITY IN 2018 ELECTIONS: The Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation's leading gay rights groups, is launching a $26 million political organizing effort ahead of next year's midterm elections. HRC president Chad Griffin said the effort, which will include hiring at least 20 additional political staffers, aims to go "beyond resistance" — drawing from the phrase used by opponents of President Donald Trump's administration. He said the group will focus on fighting legislation curbing gay rights and backing "pro-equality candidates and initiatives." "Resistance is really important — all of the marches and the rallies, that's all important," Griffin said. "But it's also important to not only sustain that, but to take that to the next level."

CONGRESS IS PUSHING FOR NEW BRANCH OF MILITARY DEDICATED TO SPACE BATTLES: A debate erupting on Capitol Hill is pitting Congress and the U.S. Air Force against each other over a plan that would create a new military branch — the United States Space Corps — to address threats in space by January 2019. The Air Force, which currently oversees the Space Command wing, is vehemently opposed to a dedicated space service, saying that would only complicate the defense bureaucracy. But members of Congress say the Air Force isn’t moving fast enough to combat what they see as the looming threat in the cosmos — especially as intelligence agencies warn that Russia and China are developing weapons to take on U.S. space assets. The proposal, which is set for a full House vote this week, won bipartisan support in a House committee last month.

MEBANE PONDERS MORE PEDESTRIAN-FRIENDLY CHANGES TO DOWNTOWN: Mebane City Engineer Franz Holt presented one possible plan for improvements to the traffic and pedestrian-heavy North Fifth Street at Monday night’s City Council meeting. The plan entails: Pavement resurfacing of North Fifth Street from Center Street to just past Ruffin Street (where previous North Fifth paving improvements stopped); Crosswalk improvements at Clay (refresh) and Ruffin (new) streets; Installation of an elevated speed table that also will serve as a mid-block crosswalk; A pedestrian-actuated warning system for proposed marked crosswalks; A new sidewalk on North Fifth from Clay to Ruffin; New striping for parking and centerlines; and Related storm drainage improvements.

WILMINGTON ENHANCES RIVERWALK AREA WITH PEDESTRIAN ART PROGRAM: Greensboro sculptor Jim Gallucci’s whimsical “Purple Whisper Bench” encourages Riverwalk passersby to stop and listen or talk through a trumpet-bell tube that coils up between the two seats. Although it takes a little more than just a whisper, sound does travel through the tube, emerging on the other side in a crisp telephone tone. The bench is one of nine new sculptures the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County has placed throughout greater downtown Wilmington for the latest installment of its popular Pedestrian Art, or PedArt, program. On Sunday, the council is throwing a Pedestrian Art celebration, with guided shuttle tours of the new works beginning at 1 p.m., and a 2 p.m. public reception at Expo 216, where many of the artists will be in attendance. “We wanted to create an opportunity for the sculptors to interact with the public, and to talk about the inspiration behind their pieces (and) the importance of public art,” arts council executive director Rhonda Bellamy said.



In case you're wondering

why I included those two articles about pedestrian stuff, it was sort of a segue into discussing NC's municipal government elections this year. Filing began Friday, and I encourage those even mildly interested to see what's happening at home.

Improvements in down-towns like in the above articles don't just happen magically, it takes years of planning and budgeting, and there is *always* an outspoken element who don't want to see anything happen, if it costs even a handful of taxpayer dollars. And due to the extremely low voter turnout in odd-year muni elections, those voices ring loudly.

Even if you're not interested in running for office, your voice of support for certain projects can make a huge difference. I've seen it happen, on more than one occasion. Check it out.

Space Warfare....?

I suppose we have to consider the possibility and it's a great concept to keep the ultra paranoid under their beds...but what's next, interdimensional warfare?