Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


TELL US WHERE YOU STAND. BAN ABORTION? MORE LIMITS? VOTERS MUST KNOW NOW: Just this week in conservative Kansas, voters overwhelmingly rejected – 59% no to 41% yes --- an effort to amend the state’s constitution to so legislators could further restrict and even ban abortions in the state. Regardless of the issue, but especially in a matter that touches nearly every North Carolinian so personally and directly, offering broad platitudes and generalities won’t cut it. It is evasive and intended to mislead rather than dealing fully, honestly and plainly with those who will be most impacted by what legislators do. Voters deserve to know, and candidates are obliged to express in detail, where they stand. North Carolina voters must know, before they cast ballots this fall, in specific detail where every legislative candidate stands. Do they stand with extremes (Moore’s description) like the Republican legislators who want the State Constitution to say life starts at fertilization and anyone who willfully tries or destroys a life is accountable for attempted murder? No voter should wonder where their candidates for the General Assembly stand on Roe v. Wade and the rights of women to make critical decisions concerning their health and life. This is a "yes or no" question, and anything in-between should not even be printed or reported. Women deserve the truth, not calculated deception.

REPUBLICANS DEMAND PROTECTION FOR CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS, EXPOSING THEIR HYPOCRISY: Sen. Thom Tillis and Rep. Ted Budd recently sent a letter to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, asking Stein to protect crisis pregnancy centers across the state from the “attacks” they have begun to experience since Roe v. Wade was overturned. The letter urged Stein to “ensure that women across our state can access the services provided by Crisis Pregnancy Centers without fear of violence.” They pointed out that Mountain Area Pregnancy Services, a crisis pregnancy center located in Asheville, was vandalized in June by a militant pro-abortion group. The words “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you” were spray-painted in red on the front of the building alongside an anarchist symbol. But if North Carolina Republicans are upset by the vandalism of pro-life pregnancy centers, they should be equally critical when abortion providers are targeted. People in North Carolina cannot access services provided by abortion clinics without fear of violence, and they haven’t been able to for a long time. Violence against abortion clinics is well-documented, dating back to the 1970s when abortion was first legalized nationwide. Abortion clinics across the country have been set on fire and bombed, and abortion providers are often the victims of physical assault, death threats and stalking. Though crisis pregnancy centers have seen an increase in vandalism since the Supreme Court’s decision, hostility toward abortion providers also has grown in recent months, with the anti-abortion movement perhaps emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decision and the brazen efforts of lawmakers that validate their positions through extreme rhetoric that likens abortion to murder. The GOP is complaining that Democrats aren’t speaking out against the sudden increase in attacks on crisis pregnancy centers, but there’s some obvious hypocrisy to be found there. Where have Republicans been all this time, while abortion clinics were on the receiving end of this violence? Where are they now, as it’s still happening? Tillis and Budd wrote that “law enforcement cannot play favorites when it comes to pursuing justice.” We agree, but politicians shouldn’t play favorites, either. IOKIYAR is strong in both of these jackasses, which is why they have no business warming a seat in the U.S. Senate.

UNAFFILIATED VOTERS SHOULDN'T BE BANNED FROM HELPING NC ELECTIONS: In the United States and particularly in North Carolina – a state where I live and a place I love – every citizen should be able to fully participate in our democracy. No one, regardless of political affiliation or more significantly -- lack thereof – should be denied that opportunity. But today, the greatest portion of voters in North Carolina are denied by law from fully participating in the state’s elections. State law prevents anyone who isn’t a Democrat or Republican from serving on the State Board of Elections. Does anyone think that is right? They shouldn’t. It is time for this discrimination to end. This institutional prohibition keeps some voters, who would add an important perspective and offer the members of the board a chance to be viewed as more than a tool of partisan affiliates, from being able to fully engage in the election process. It has been a problem for a long time that has now grown intolerable. I no longer feel that I can just be a bystander to a great injustice. That is why I joined as a plaintiff (in Common Cause v. Moore) to force North Carolina to open participation in the administration of our elections to EVERY voter – regardless of their political affiliation or even lack thereof. Neither the WRAL-TV newsroom nor the State Board of Elections had any role in this commentary nor my involvement in this lawsuit. I do it proudly and openly. This is not to further any partisan cause, candidate or ideology. It is simply to enable as many as possible to participate as they desire in our great democracy. I agree with this in principle, it's the practical application that has me concerned. Being Unaffiliated does not equate to not having an ideological bent. Some are Unaffiliated because their normal party of choice is not extreme enough for them. They're way out in right or left field, in other words, and I don't think any of us want extremists casting a tie-breaking vote. That being said, managing our elections needs to be as non-partisan as we can design it, and achieving that can only boost confidence in our electoral process.

THE LAST BEST HOPE FOR NORTH CAROLINA'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS: By securing a state Supreme Court ruling that North Carolina schoolchildren were and are entitled to an opportunity to receive a sound basic education, the Leandro plaintiffs hoped they would soon usher in a period in which the optimism and progress that was then found in many parts of the state would become a 100-county phenomenon. Unfortunately, you know what happened next. The roof fell in (literally, in some cases). New, large and bold Republican majorities took control of the General Assembly in 2011 and commenced an aggressive and ideologically driven campaign to reduce investments in public education and transfer a steadily growing share of the state’s schoolchildren out of traditional public schools. The devastation that followed has been deep and widespread. In the coming weeks, the North Carolina Supreme Court will, one more time, take up the Leandro case and, it is hoped here, decide at long last that it can and must order a resistant state legislature to take the action it has so long refused to take — namely, to adequately fund our public schools. There is no doubt about what is necessary or possible at this point. Experts have labored long and hard to produce (and the trial court has approved) a comprehensive remedial plan that is designed to move the state into compliance by dramatically enhancing investments in an array of key areas. What’s more, thanks in large part to the Biden administration’s economic recovery efforts, the state possesses a giant bank account that could easily cover the initial installment. If we didn't have the resources, it would be a genuine challenge. But to have those resources and do next to nothing is a man-made Constitutional crisis.

IT'S TIME WE ALL COME TOGETHER TO ADDRESS THE GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: As parents and global citizens, we are very worried about the cost-of-living crisis that the world is facing – the worst in over a generation. The interlinked shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and conflicts have thrown the global food, agricultural, financial and energy systems and markets into turmoil. The ongoing war in Ukraine has added fuel to the already precarious poverty, hunger and malnutrition situation. Besides its tragic humanitarian toll, the war is extending human suffering to all corners of the world through widespread disruptions to the planting, harvesting, transport, and export of major agricultural commodities from the Black Sea region. Even before the war, hunger and malnutrition were on the rise globally, with an unacceptable 823 million people going hungry in 2021 according to the recent edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report by five United Nations agencies, including FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. That said, the war has pushed an additional 50 million people into severe hunger in 2022 across the world. With food prices continuing to rise, another 19 million more people are expected to face chronic undernourishment globally in 2023. These are not mere statistics but real people around the world, from Cairo to Caracas, Dhaka to Donetsk, who are going to bed hungry. While everyone is squeezed by food price inflation, the poor are the hardest hit, especially in developing countries, where food accounts for half of a typical family’s budget. They are finding it more and more difficult to afford the food needed to nourish their families, and are being forced to reduce food intake, sell their productive assets, or take their children out of school. Thankfully, we know what we need to do, together, to raise our ambition and deliver concrete actions. First, stepping up humanitarian response for those already in need. However, addressing this crisis and the vicious cycles it creates calls for an approach that looks at the emergency today with our focus firmly fixed on strengthening livelihoods against future shocks. Second, urgent stabilisation of markets, debt and commodity prices to immediately restore the availability, accessibility and affordability of food to enable all people everywhere to realise their right to food. We urge countries to continue releasing strategic food stockpiles and inputs into markets, minimise hoarding and other speculative behaviour, and avoid unnecessary trade restrictions. There are some other steps, and I encourage you to click through and read the whole article. And I also encourage you to pay attention to this problem after we get our inflation problem under control. Because your discomfort paying higher grocery bills pales in comparison to people starving elsewhere.


DR. JENNA BECKHAM: NC'S 20 WEEK ABORTION BAN SHOULD BE IGNORED: The past 50 years of abortion restrictions have been put in place by elected officials, the majority of whom have no medical training. As a board-certified OB-GYN, this is insulting to my knowledge and skills, for which I have completed many years of education and training. The 20-week abortion ban that N.C. Republican lawmakers want the state to reinstate is one example of an arbitrary restriction put in place by untrained politicians. Allowing this ban to be reinstated would strip away the ability for North Carolinians to have autonomy to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein seems to understand that such medical decisions should be left to the patient and their provider, and that restrictions on this process would be harmful for the citizens of this state. There are many critical elections coming up in November; but the judicial elections may be the most critical. Vote like your freedom depends on it, because it does.

CAROLINE TAYLOR: THE UNELECTED U.S. SUPREME COURT: Regarding “The GOP’s position on contraception exposes its abortion hypocrisy” (July 28 Editorial): This editorial said that if we have learned anything by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, “it’s that our rights aren’t quite as inalienable as we thought.” The very definition of the word “inalienable” is that it is something that cannot be alienated, surrendered, or transferred. We still have those inalienable rights, whether enumerated in the Constitution or not. A few individuals with lifetime appointments have determined that a woman’s right to choose can be transferred to the states. They are incorrect, and we must do whatever we can to reverse that flawed decision. It starts with voting. We are edging closer and closer to a Theocracy, and the only way to stop it is in the voting booth.

TAMIKA WILLIAMS: HOLDING OUT HOPE FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION: I’ve been deeply concerned about the growing access to care issue in our state for a while now and what it means for the health of our families and community. That’s why I was so grateful to see legislative leadership publicly pledge to address such a pressing issue for Greensboro residents this year. Inadequate access to health care has plagued Guilford County for too long. Closing the Medicaid coverage gap in North Carolina will give more than 600,000 North Carolinians access to quality health care. States that have expanded Medicaid have seen an increase in jobs, improvements in health care in rural areas and decreases in mortality rates in Black and Latino communities. There’s never been a more critical or more fitting time for such action. Hardworking families, like mine, here and across our state can’t afford to continue to wait. I’m eager to see such lifesaving action finally happen for North Carolinians when legislators reconvene to address priority issues. The evidence-based impact is there. I’m hopeful that, with broad, bipartisan support like never before, North Carolina will be the next state to expand coverage. Although I grow tired of Lucy (BergerMoore) jerking away the football at the last second, this issue is too important to give up on. Lives are at stake, expand Medicaid now.



On sustainability and distribution...

A couple of years ago on the campaign trail I got into a protracted discussion with a citizen over Solar farms, and had to straighten out some "kinks" in this dude's logic.

It started out with the alleged "loss" of agricultural production by constructing Solar farms where crops should be growing. We could increase those by a factor of ten and still be only using a fraction of arable land, but that is only a part of the story.

Food and energy production have one thing in common: the farther they must be transmitted to consumers the more costly they are to our environment and society.

The food you eat comes with a carbon footprint. Transportation and chilling are huge energy drains, and those factors must be considered when you compare prices at your favorite grocery store. Tomato imports more than doubled in the U.S. from 2000 to 2016, and their carbon footprint did also. In other words, you and I are paying a hefty (and unsustainable) price in addition to whatever is "rung up" on that cash register.

Understand, the "market" doesn't care about that. Not one whit. Big agribusiness firms are only interested in volume and profit margins, and the consequences (intended or not) only come into play if those margins are threatened by them.

And then there are supply chain disruptions, which are literally killing people in Africa right now. The use of the word "chain" is doubly apt, because we have come to depend on this illogical approach to food supply. We need to break that chain before it breaks us.

Power generation also has many of these attributes. The farther the energy needs to be transmitted, the more of it we lose. Something like 17% doesn't make it to the end of the grid, and when the original source is a fossil fuel plant, that loss is especially painful (not to mention idiotic).

"But Steve, that's why we need a Smart Grid!"

Yes, we do need that. Desperately. But what we need even more is distributed energy production. The energy generated by Solar farms is used locally. Remember that if you are sitting in a County Commissioner meeting, about to approach the podium and lament the loss of farmland and the "eyesore" of being able to see (gasp) Solar panels in your bucolic countryside.

They had to scram the nuke plant because some fire control systems showed errors? Rolling blackouts (or brownouts) because a tree fell 50 miles away? The more distributed and dispersed our power generation is, the less likely you will be affected by those things.

The same goes for food production. Buy local. Grow your own. Break that chain, one link at a time.

And for any Conservatives reading this: what happened to self-sufficiency? What happened to not being dependent on other states and countries for our survival and prosperity? You should embrace the renewable energy sector and slow food movements, not vilify them. I shouldn't have to remind you, but apparently I do.

It's a false dichotomy anyway...

to say that land used for solar energy production is taken away from food production. There is now a push to institute dual-use solutions that use solar panel installations to partially shade food production on the same land. It's been a largely successful experiment so far. Then, of course, you can also use solar farms for livestock grazing (it's actually beneficial to the solar farm, by keeping vegetation from growing to block the panels) and hay production. So it's simply not true that building a solar farm must lead to that land being removed from agricultural use.


Doing Daily Dose the hard way.