Deported combat veteran dies on the way back to the U.S.

We should be ashamed of ourselves:

Veteran Lance Cpl. Enrique Salas' flag-draped casket was loaded into a hearse with a Marine Corps seal and two miniature American flags protruding from either window. Salas finally made it home to the central San Joaquin Valley in California the only way he could. The Persian Gulf War veteran, who was deported to Mexico in 2006, was buried with military honors in a Reedley cemetery on April 20 beside his younger brother, another fallen Marine.

Salas is among up to 1,500 U.S. veterans who have been deported, Franco said, with an estimated 200 to 300 alive and known by the Committee on Deported Veterans. Franco, who is running for Congress against incumbent Rep. Devin Nunes, said it's hard to get an exact number because immigration officials and the Department of Veterans Affairs don't keep track of how many deportees are veterans.

This is a tragedy, but it''s also a travesty. You put your life on the line for *your* country, the absolute least they should do is grant you citizenship. I'll leave it at that for now, because my blood is boiling and I don't trust my typing fingers to hold back.

Friday News: Environmental Justice

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JURY PUNISHES SMITHFIELD IN HOG NUISANCE LAWSUIT TO THE TUNE OF $50 MILLION: A federal jury in North Carolina is awarding more than $50 million in damages to neighbors of an industrial hog operation responsible for smells, noise and other disturbances so bad they couldn’t enjoy their rural homes. Jurors on Thursday awarded 10 neighbors of a 15,000-head swine operation a total of $750,000 in compensation plus $50 million in damages designed to punish the hog-production division of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods. Lawyers didn’t sue the farm’s owner, instead targeting the Chinese-owned corporation. Smithfield uses strict contracts to dictate how farm operators raise livestock the company owns. The decision is the first in dozens of nuisance lawsuits filed by more than 500 neighbors against hog operations. Smithfield says the lawsuits are a serious threat to a major agricultural industry and employer in North Carolina.
http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/20180426/nc-jury-hits-pork-giant-for-50m-for-hog-operations-nuisance

Senate Judiciary approves Mueller protection bill

And yes, I chose this particular Tweet because it's evidence Fran De Luca is against investigating public corruption. Hypocrites-R-Us...

Big-government Republicans set to gerrymander Asheville

Once again choosing power over people who don't want their "help":

Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, said his plans to have the legislature draw district maps for City Council during the coming session have not changed. The General Assembly passed a bill he sponsored last year that gave council a chance to draw districts, but directs the legislature to do so if council didn't.

But Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, said council did act when it put the question of whether to go to a district system on the ballot in last November's election. She noted that "not a single precinct" in the city, including those in South Asheville where backing for districts appears to be strongest, gave the idea a majority. Citywide, 75 percent voted against districts.

While it could be said that City demographics would inhibit Republicans from actually winning a majority on the Council (unless they got really crazy with the map), double-bunking current Asheville leaders is a distinct possibility. Whatever the case, the people have spoken. And a continued effort to do this after that voice was heard makes a mockery of democracy.

Proposed pipeline extension generates early opposition

Something wicked this way comes:

More than two dozen Haw River stakeholders concerned about a proposed natural gas pipeline that would extend into Alamance County met in Burlington on Wednesday, April 25, to organize opposition. Mountain Valley Pipeline wants to install a pipeline that would begin in Pittsylvania County, Va., and extend about 70 miles south to Rockingham and Alamance counties and end in Graham, just south of Interstate 40-85. Initial plans show the pipeline could parallel the Haw River beginning in southeastern Rockingham County.

The Haw River Assembly hosted the meeting at the Company Shops Market. The Chatham County-based nonprofit says that it has been “defending the river since 1982” and is worried about the environmental damage the pipeline could cause. Mountain Valley Pipeline wants to start construction in 2020 but must receive federal approval.

Many years ago the City of Burlington had just one drinking water reservoir, but as the population grew, the City impounded another (larger) reservoir a few miles North. Those two are connected via a spillway and the original creek, and this pipeline extension will cross between the two. And after it does, it will follow the Haw River very closely for several miles before terminating. That means Jordan Lake is also at risk of potential contamination, so this is not just a local problem, folks. Here's more from the Haw Riverkeeper:

Thursday News: Skip your own meal

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NC AG JOSH STEIN APPEALS TO SUPREME COURT OVER DUKE RATE INCREASE: The state Utilities Commission had approved an increase of about $5.22 a month for residential customers in the eastern half of North Carolina, including much of Wake County. Some of that money would go toward coal ash pond cleanups at Duke plants, which is one of the reasons Stein’s office asked the Supreme Court to take another look at the decision. The Sierra Club has also filed an appeal in the case. The attorney general argues that Duke’s violation of environmental regulations and criminal laws in dealing with coal ash and evidence that the company knew the risks of storing ash in unlined ponds well before the 2014 Dan River spill should have kept the commission from approving the increase.
https://www.wral.com/stein-appeals-duke-energy-rate-increase/17510907/

Immigration and Andy Griffith

With all that's going on in DC it seems the immigration debate is being overlooked. Here is great Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer op-ed from Representative Michael Wray (Northampton and Halifax counties) about what Congress should do with immigration, using a story from NC's own Andy Griffith Show. What better way to talk about this contentious topic than with Andy Griffith?

Immigration & Andy Griffith
By Representative Michael Wray

When it comes to immigration, federal lawmakers should ask themselves: what would Andy Griffith do?

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Ronny Jackson nomination evidence of deeper problems

Quite possibly the worst candidate to run the Veterans Administration:

During an overseas trip in 2015, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, was intoxicated and banged on the hotel room door of a female employee, according to four sources familiar with the allegation. The incident became so noisy, one source familiar with the allegation told CNN, that the Secret Service stopped him out of concern that he would wake then-President Barack Obama.

Two sources who previously worked in the White House Medical Unit described the same incident, with one former staffer telling CNN that it was "definitely inappropriate, in the middle of the night," and that it made the woman uncomfortable. At the time, the incident was reported up the chain of command, and it is one of multiple drunken episodes involving Jackson on overseas trips, according to a source familiar.

Those two paragraphs highlight three major problems with the military, two of which make Jackson supremely unqualified to run the VA. Because there is always a victim, the 1st problem is sexual harassment and assault. Decades of efforts to curb this have mostly failed, and Jackson is a prime example why. When junior officers see (and hear about) a Rear Admiral pulling this crap, they know the good old boy's club is still alive and well. This makes the problem "perpetual," meaning it will likely never stop, unless drastic measures are taken. The 2nd problem is substance abuse in the ranks. This is another problem that is not new, but seventeen years of sustained hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq have supercharged it, and the vast majority of the record-breaking number of veteran suicides can be chalked up in the substance abuse column. The last thing we need is an alcoholic at the helm of the VA. The last problem exposed above is the military's inability to police its own ranks, once officers have achieved Field Grade level. Jackson should have been cashiered years ago, but he's still partying on. Now that my critique of the military is done, let's look at the dysfunctional White House:

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