NCGA

Taliban Dan: Forest taking part in religious extremist conference

The company you keep says a lot about you:

Next month, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will be the special guest at The American Renewal Project’s “North Carolina Renewal Project” event in Charlotte. The roster of speakers for the private conservative Christian event includes:

A pastor who calls the notion of a separation between church and state “cowardice” and those in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality “militant homofascists” bent on turning the U.S. into Sodom. An author who has railed against Muslims as would-be conquerors and rapists and LGBTQ rights as a first step to America living under Sharia law. A pastor and Republican politician who has asserted anyone not committed to the U.S. as an explicitly Judeo-Christian nation should leave.

Apparently the only way to avoid Shariah Law is to form a Christo-Fascist state? You know what, don't try and understand it, because that way lies madness:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The real value Twitter can bring to the table:

As opposed to the robotic posting of multiple hourly Tweets with the same message...

Beware of the false remedy of "Opportunity Zones"

A better name might be, "Gentrification On Steroids":

President Trump has portrayed America’s cities as wastelands, ravaged by crime and homelessness, infested by rats. But the Trump administration’s signature plan to lift them — a multibillion-dollar tax break that is supposed to help low-income areas — has fueled a wave of developments financed by and built for the wealthiest Americans.

Among the early beneficiaries of the tax incentive are billionaire financiers like Leon Cooperman and business magnates like Sidney Kohl — and Mr. Trump’s family members and advisers.

Personal anecdote time: Last year my town's merchant's association held a "business social," bringing in bankers and other Very Important Persons to discuss economic growth possibilities. One of the topics I was very keen to hear about was Opportunity Zones, because we have some areas that really need a lift. But the investment advisor (woman) who presented did not even mention economic improvement, or helping marginalized citizens. It was all about how to leverage the program to reap the most financial benefits. And another quick take: The more the merrier. The more expensive the project, the more tax savings reaped. Which means, the finished product (luxury apartments, high-end retail) would be inaccessible for people on the low end of the totem pole:

NC09 Debate fact-check reveals dismal state of NC teacher pay

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This is why you should wear red for ed:

When moderator Christine Sperow asked the candidates to address the economic concerns of rural farmers, McCready quickly transitioned to Bishop’s performance on teacher pay. McCready argued that the state of public education in North Carolina is harming rural North Carolinians just as much as the Trump administration’s trade policies. “We have got to be investing in our public schools,” McCready said, “alongside taking on China, to make life better for so many people.”

Bishop interjected, saying he supported teacher pay increases in the state budget for five consecutive years. A sixth and seventh consecutive raise would be possible, Bishop said, if Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper hadn’t vetoed this year’s state budget. Bishop is right — the past five budgets have increased teacher pay — but critics say these raises weren’t enough.

While Congress has zero impact on NC teacher pay, this is a legitimate debate point because it reveals how ineffective Bishop (and his GOP colleagues) have been in managing critical state policies and programs. And these numbers can't be harped on enough:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Illness and death have plagued TVA cleanup workers

Compounding the catastrophe with more irresponsible behavior:

The TVA paid for as many as 900 people to contain and remove the pollution, some working 12-hour shifts for months at a time. The sludge dried into a fine dust that sparkled like glitter and sometimes whirled into clouds so thick, drivers could barely see past the hoods of their trucks.

In Associated Press interviews, workers said they were healthy before breathing the ash, but have since suffered unusual symptoms. They recalled joking darkly about "coal ash flu" before suffering strange lesions and seeing their skin flake off like fish scales. At least 40 co-workers have died, they said, some gruesomely, collapsing and coughing up blood. "We cleaned it up in a little over five years, and it would've took 25 years to do it the right way," said Doug Bledsoe, who drove trucks there and now has brain and lung cancer.

Let's say it again for those in the back rows: "Heavy metals persist." Mercury, Arsenic, Lead, are all heavy metals that survive the coal-burning process, often in the form of fly-ash, which is such a fine particulate that it remains airborne longer than other residuals, and more easily penetrates the soft tissues (and even bloodstream). That fly-ash also contains radioactive isotopes, which are probably responsible for many of the cancers. It's not just nasty, it's deadly, and the civil court system in Tennessee is allowing even more of these folks to die because of the "phases" they have to go through to get relief:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The cost of GOP shenanigans:

And issuing a tax cut while the Budget is still in limbo is negligent, to say the least.

Briana: The tale of American guns and foreign deaths

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I guess you could call this trickle-down economics, albeit of a deadly form:

She preyed on the parish of Clarendon, carrying out nine confirmed kills, including a double homicide outside a bar, the killing of a father at a wake and the murder of a single mother of three. Her violence was indiscriminate: She shot and nearly killed a 14-year-old girl getting ready for church. With few clues to identify her, the police named her Briana. They knew only her country of origin — the United States — where she had been virtually untraceable since 1991.

Briana, serial number 245PN70462, was a 9-millimeter Browning handgun.

As many of you already know, I served in the Army for several years. I taught weapons and tactics to foreign military and Guard/Reserve/ROTC here in the States. A few years after I left the service, I purchased a couple of weapons, a Russian Makarov pistol and a Chinese (Army issue) SKS 7.62 assault rifle. I did not have a weapon safe to store them in, but I did have trigger locks on both. I simply couldn't imagine anyone breaking into my home, but they did, in the middle of the daytime. And yes, over the years I have lost sleep worrying about what those weapons may have been used for. I wish other Americans worried about that too:

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