Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


SOLAR ALREADY MAKING AMERICA GREAT, TARIFFS THREATEN IT: Homegrown energy, boundless local economic advancement opportunities, and jobs for communities that need them most. What’s not to like about solar energy? It seems our current federal administration is determined to find something. President Donald Trump’s recent move to impose a 30 percent tariff on solar panels looks a lot like a solution looking for a problem. Here in North Carolina, a state ranked #2 in the nation for installed solar capacity, this news is confusing and frustrating at once. Even those who do not identify as a solar consumer or advocate have experienced the residual benefits of our state’s growing, $10 billion clean energy economy, largely propelled by solar in the past decade. Those benefits include new property tax revenues, jobs, local economic expansion, and lower long-term electric rates. In its coverage of the tariff decision, The Wall Street Journal asks, “Can Donald Trump stand prosperity?” We have to ask that question ourselves, as this decision immediately jeopardizes current and future economic opportunities resulting from solar energy.

Saturday News: Power, checked


NC SUPREME COURT SIDES WITH COOPER ON GOP TAKEOVER OF ELECTION BOARDS: In a 4-3 ruling that breaks down along the court’s partisan lines, the justices found that a law passed in 2017 that merged the state Board of Elections with the state Ethics Commission and limited Cooper’s power to appoint a majority of its members violated the state Constitution’s separation of powers clause. The ruling, in a case that has attracted national attention, means that the governor’s party will control elections boards at the state and county levels, as has been the case for decades before Cooper defeated one-term Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. That could have implications for voting hours and poll locations in this year’s elections.

The long racist history of Thomas Farr

It's a lot more sinister and ingrained than you think:

Founded in 1937 to pursue “race betterment” for those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution,” the Pioneer Fund was the “primary source for scientific racism” well into the 2000s and one of the key funders of the fight against civil rights in the South from the 1950s onward.

Farr’s connection to the Pioneer Fund comes principally through his longtime boss and mentor, Thomas Ellis, the political mastermind behind the arch-segregationist Senator Jesse Helms. Ellis was a Pioneer Fund director, grantee and close associate of the hate group’s president, Harry Frederick Weyher, Jr., for over 60 years. In the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed from the Pioneer Fund to a tax-exempt foundation called the Coalition For Freedom that was under Ellis’ control and represented by Farr.

This man really has no business even being in a court of law, much less presiding over it. You may want to put on a haz-mat suit before reading any further:

Friday News: Loony birds of a feather


DAN FOREST RECEIVED DONATIONS FROM WORD OF FAITH CULT MINISTERS: Campaign finance records show that Lt. Governor Dan Forest last year accepted a campaign donation from the leader of a controversial North Carolina church. Forest, a socially conservative Republican, will likely seek the party nomination to run against Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in 2020. Forest faced criticism from the N.C. Democratic Party last October for attending a July fundraiser with members of Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale. Word of Faith has come under scrutiny in recent months after 43 former members told the Associated Press that church members try to expel demons using “blasting” prayers where congregants were smacked, choked, punched and thrown to the floor. Five members face criminal charges for their alleged actions in a 2013 church service. A former member says they tried to beat the “homosexual demons” out of him.

In rural NC, economics often clashes with environmentalism


But what benefits one county may poison another:

Heavily agricultural and rural Bladen County southeast of Fayetteville, has two cornerstone businesses on its tax rolls. There’s Smithfield, the world’s largest pork processing plant, and The Chemours Company’s Fayetteville Works site. “The Fayetteville Works site generates just over a million dollars of revenue for Bladen County a year,” said Chuck Heustess, executive director of Bladen County’s Economic Development Commission.

Heustess said Chemours brings more than just decent paying jobs to Bladen and neighboring counties. He said the company pays for services -- everything from landscaping to catering.

Which is common practice for polluting industries, funneling a fraction of their profits into buying loyalty from local governments. Or I should say, placing them in a position where they can't afford to lose said polluting industry. The perspective from New Hanover County, however, is exactly the opposite:

Thursday News: GOP goes to court, act 12


JUDGE CATHERINE EAGLES WEIGHS REINSTATING JUDICIAL PRIMARY RACES IN NC: When North Carolina voters go to the polls in November to elect judges, they could see a long list of names on the ballot with each candidate’s political affiliation. In a federal courtroom in Greensboro on Wednesday, attorneys for the North Carolina Democratic Party argued that the Republican-led General Assembly violated the party’s free speech and equal protection rights in October when it voted to abolish primary elections in all judicial races this year which would have allowed the winnowing of candidates for the general election. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles is weighing whether to block the law while a lawsuit filed last year awaits trial.

Newest PPP Poll lends credence to NC's "Blue Wave" hopes

And two very different Executives may be a determining factor:

PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds that Democrats lead the generic legislative ballot 46-41 for this fall. Among voters who are ‘very excited’ about voting in this year’s election- which could be a low turnout affair with no Senate or Gubernatorial race at the top of the ballot- the Democratic edge expands to 13 points at 53/40. The strong position for Democrats is a function of voters being happy with their Democratic Governor and unhappy with their Republican President. 49% of voters approve of the job Roy Cooper is doing to 33% who disapprove.

Voters are not happy with the General Assembly. Only 19% approve of the job it’s doing to 51% who disapprove. The Democrats in the legislature aren’t popular, with 39% of voters approving of the job they’re doing to 45% who disapprove. But they’re a lot better off than the Republicans who have only a 35% approval rating with 51% of voters disapproving of them. There’s 59/15 support for nonpartisan redistricting with independents (69/12), Democrats (62/12), and Republicans (45/21) all in favor of it.

That last part (redistricting) is very likely due to how much Republicans have abused it. Screwing with Congressional maps, Legislative maps, and now Judicial maps, has ensured this issue has been reported on every other day for the last year and a half or two, and that's enough to penetrate the awareness of even the painfully unaware. And contrary to what some Democratic contrarians have whined about in the last few days, it also appears voters know exactly who to blame for the Federal government shutdown:

Wednesday News: The truth is never wrong


ACLU CONVINCES NC PRISONS TO REMOVE "NEW JIM CROW" FROM BANNED BOOK LIST: "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" was the subject of a New York Times piece last week titled, "Why Are American Prisons So Afraid of This Book?" The article specifically noted that North Carolina and Florida prison systems wouldn't allow inmates to read it and said prisoners in others states often have trouble getting copies. The ACLU sent the North Carolina Department of Public Safety a heavily footnoted letter Monday, calling the ban unconstitutional and contrary to the prison system's own regulations. The state keeps a list of hundreds of "disapproved publications" inmates aren't allowed access to, but the ACLU suggested this particular book was off limits because it shines "a harsh light" on racism in the country's justice system. After receiving the letter, state Director of Prisons Kenneth Lassiter "decided to immediately remove the book," DPS spokeswoman Pamela Walker said in an email. Lassiter, who started in the job May 1, also will review the system's entire list of banned books to determine whether others should be removed, Walker said.

Trump to levy 30% tariff on imported Solar panels


Because when something is working very well, it's time to break it:

Suniva spokesman Mark Paustenbach called tariffs "a step forward for this high-tech solar-manufacturing industry we pioneered right here in America." However, solar installers and manufacturers of other equipment used to run solar-power systems opposed tariffs, which they said will raise their prices and hurt demand for the renewable energy.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, which represents installation companies, said billions of dollars of solar investment will be delayed or canceled, leading to the loss of 23,000 jobs this year. Mark Bortman, founder of Exact Solar in Philadelphia, said the prospect of tariffs, since the trade commission recommended them in October, had already caused him to delay hiring and expansion plans. "Solar is really just starting to take off because it is truly a win-win-win situation" for consumers, workers and the environment, he said. "Tariffs would really be shooting ourselves in the foot."

Environmentalists should not be "torn" on his issue. Make no mistake, it's a bad idea, and very likely will please fossil fuel companies and their advocates. And considering some of the comments I've seen by those who should know better, I guess it's time for another lecture on this complicated issue:


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