Wednesday News: Breaking Moscow rules

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TRUMP HAD SECOND AND MORE CONFIDENTIAL MEETING WITH PUTIN AT G20: President Donald Trump had a second and previously undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin while both were in Germany for the G20 meeting. The White House has confirmed that Trump and Putin spoke on July 7 at the end of a social dinner, a less formal diplomatic encounter. Trump reportedly left his seat at the table halfway through the meal and sat in an empty chair next to Putin, with Putin’s translator the only other person around. No formal readout of the encounter was distributed by the White House, where officials said the only account of the meeting in Hamburg came from Trump himself. The issues discussed have not been disclosed, but the meeting is likely to stoke concerns over Trump’s affinity for Putin.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article162261928.html

Tuesday News: Dead in the water

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WITH TWO MORE REPUBLICANS DEFECTING, MCCONNELL GIVES UP ON SENATE HEALTHCARE BILL: After Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran said Monday evening they would not vote to advance the GOP healthcare bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he would abandon the effort to repeal and immediately replace Obamacare. McConnell said in a statement Monday night that the two senators defections made it “apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.” Instead, McConnell endorsed an approach supported by President Donald Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act without immediately replacing it with different health care legislation.
http://www.newsobserver.com/latest-news/article161888003.html

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The Resistance has a new weapon:

It's beginning to look like this may be the only way Governor Cooper will be able to do the job he was elected to do:

Monday numbers: How to put state government on life support

The sheer magnitude of irresponsibility is breathtaking:

528 million—amount in dollars of the cost of the tax cuts enacted in the two-year budget passed by the General Assembly this year (Ibid)

900 million—amount in dollars of the full cost of the tax cuts passed by the General Assembly this year when fully in place (Ibid)

3.5 billion—amount in dollars of lost revenue thanks to the combined tax changes made by the General Assembly since 2013 (Ibid)

It's rare for me to be able to summon analogies on Mondays, I usually just hunker down and wait for the coffee to do its magic. But today, I have two analogies warring for my attention, derived from recent news stories, which I believe accurately reflect Republicans' actions. The first has to do with termites eating away at the foundations of a house, year after year, until the house actually collapses from weakened timbers. If that doesn't trick your trigger, there's also the sinkhole phenomenon: Groundwater erosion which slowly washes away soil and mineral deposits, creating unseen gaping voids of missing support, which inevitably eventually collapse, dragging the house down in the process. Okay, I might need more coffee, but you get the picture. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, and the displacement of mass or energy in a formula alters that formula in its entirety. These tax cuts are not "rhetorical," and neither will be the results. And we will have to live with those results for years to come.

Industrial Hemp in NC 2017

Industrial Hemp in NC 2017

A&T State University Small Farm Day is always a huge treat for me. Not only does the school share
the year’s cutting edge agricultural research with the public, all who attend have a fabulous lunch served
right there at the facility. This year I picked up leaflets detailing the pilot program for NC Industrial Hemp.

Monday News: Toxic soup

IN ADDITION TO GENX, SIX MORE CHEMICALS FOUND IN CAPE FEAR DOWNSTREAM FROM TEFLON PLANT: All seven of the chemicals were found in the river below the plant, where more than 300,000 people get their drinking water. None of the chemicals was discovered in the river above the plant, leading researchers to believe Chemours was the source. It is not known whether GenX or the other chemicals that researchers found pose a health threat to humans because they are classified as “emerging contaminants” and not regulated by state or federal agencies. But the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement Friday saying studies on animals found that GenX caused testicular, pancreatic and liver cancer. “Whether or not animal effects will be the same in humans is not known,” the statement said. Scientists say the chemicals found in the Cape Fear River are so new that they cannot determine exactly how much is in the water or how harmful they might be.
http://www.fayobserver.com/news/20170715/genx-not-only-possible-toxin-in-cape-fear-river

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NOBODY ASKED FOR THIS WIND MORATORIUM: The fact that the only way to pass this was to hijack a consensus stakeholder bill shows just how unpopular and unnecessary this policy is in North Carolina. A wind moratorium ultimately hurts the residents of eastern North Carolina, which could lose $1 billion in investments from two to three projects currently under development. It sends a signal to businesses trying to invest in the state that regulations are unpredictable and not always grounded in fact. This moratorium threatens individual property rights and denies rural economies one of the best economic development opportunities available to them. For Brown to put the renewable energy industry, the utility and his fellow legislators in the position of a significant compromise without any discussion is disturbing.
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article161392898.html

GK Butterfield blasts Donald Trump's nominee for Federal judgeship

Thomas Farr is the last person who should be donning that robe:

“I’m disappointed that President Trump nominated a lawyer who has been at the forefront of defending the North Carolina Republican legislature as it has repeatedly engaged in political gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional district boundaries and has passed regressive voting laws that had the intended effect of diluting the voting rights of minority groups,” Butterfield said.

“I urge the United States Senate to carefully scrutinize the record of Thomas Farr and determine if he can impartially serve as a judge in cases involving voting and civil rights,” Butterfield said.

This development, on top of the Republicans' sustained refusal to approve African-American judicial appointees, sends a clear message the GOP is intent upon suppressing the rights of NC's minority populations in whatever way it can. It's unconscionable and unforgivable, and it needs to be a core campaign issue in both 2018 and in Thom Tillis' re-election bid in 2020. If we don't push back harder, Republicans will continue to stifle the voices of those who are already widely ignored by the majority of NC's citizens.

Saturday News: Politicizing education

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JUDGES RULE IN FAVOR OF LAW SHIFTING POWERS TO MARK JOHNSON: The three judges sided with Superintendent Mark Johnson, ruling the board failed to provide the proof needed to strike down the General Assembly's law last December giving him more control over day-to-day operations. The law in part also let Johnson administer some education funds, oversee charter schools and hire senior-level aides. The law, approved by the GOP-controlled legislature just before Johnson — also a Republican — took office, was the latest pull in a decades-long tug of war over the balance of power between the superintendent and the board, whose voting members are appointed by the governor. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper also was about to take office when the law was approved.
http://www.wral.com/judges-side-with-new-law-superintendent-over-school-powers/16820471/

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