Republican attack on the poor

The "dead or alive" mentality of NC law enforcement

The numbers tell the tale clearly:

Slightly more than half of these 249 fatalities listed an initial cause associated with law enforcement’s use of force. A dozen originated from traffic stops and 16 involved a mental health situation or “welfare check.” Twenty-seven people were killed in situations stemming from a nonviolent crime, including drug offenses and warrant service.

For the deaths involving firearms, the majority of victims were not fleeing at the time of the shooting, data originally tallied by the Washington Post shows.

Bolding mine, because even if they were fleeing, that's not a Capital offense. Here is just one of these unnecessary homicides by hyped-up deputies:

Trial of George Floyd's killer set to begin

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All eyes are on Minneapolis, once again:

As soldiers prepared to take to the streets, the officer, Derek Chauvin, believed that the case against him was so devastating that he agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder. As part of the deal, officials now say, he was willing to go to prison for more than 10 years. Local officials, scrambling to end the community’s swelling anger, scheduled a news conference to announce the deal.

But at the last minute, according to new details laid out by three law enforcement officials, the deal fell apart after William P. Barr, the attorney general at the time, rejected the arrangement.

The article claims that Barr nixed the plea deal because he thought it was too lenient, and would stir up public unrest. But after watching him in action supporting Trump for so long, I find that hard to believe. I think (it's possible) he wanted to force it to trial with harsher charges so the jury would fail to convict this cop. Whatever the case, a guilty verdict is not a foregone conclusion:

Justice is (finally) coming for Flint residents

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Water is the source of life, or death:

After a criminal investigation that stretched close to two years, prosecutors in Michigan on Thursday announced 41 counts — 34 felonies and seven misdemeanors — against nine officials who once worked in the highest echelons of state government.

Prosecutors said the officials failed to protect the safety and health of the residents of Flint, who were sickened by increased levels of lead and by Legionnaires' disease after the city’s water supply was switched to the Flint River in April of 2014. At least nine people died of Legionnaires’ in the Flint region from June of 2014 through October of 2015; two of the officials on Thursday were charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter.

The Flint River was already nasty decades before Michigan officials decided to make the switch. They knew it, and so did everybody else. But they did it anyway:

NC families need rent and utility assistance, right now

And the General Assembly is holding onto Billions that could help with that:

“We’re looking at potentially 300,000 evictions come January,” said Rick Glazier, executive director of the Justice Center. “There are probably another 800,000 other total folks who are in utility arrearages in this state. Those kind of numbers, which is why we’re having this discussion today, would overwhelm the courts and social service agencies in this state.” To prevent such a situation, people need the time to work out arrangements for how and whether they can pay their rent, Glazier said.

I don't want to undercut what Rick is saying, but kicking that can down the road with some sort of "payment plan" is just not enough. I'm in a radical mood, so here's a radical idea: The state should use that $4 Billion surplus to buy up people's rent debt. Private debt collectors do this all the time, pay 50c on the dollar and take over the debt. Of course they are bastards and torment families to get their money back, but that initial debt purchase is what I'm talking about. If a family is $5,000 behind in rent, the state pays the landlord $2,500 and cleans the slate, letting that family start over. The state could put a lien on that family's tax returns to recoup some of that $2,500, and maybe give a tax break to the landlord for cooperating. Richard Moore has a similar idea, but it would cost a lot more than mine:

Hunger is spiking in NC during the pandemic

Close to a 40% increase over 2019 numbers:

Nearly 80% of North Carolinians are at least considering sharing a meal with someone outside their household on Thanksgiving or winter holiday, and nearly 18% reported having too little food on at least one day in the previous week, according to preliminary results from an online survey conducted Nov. 17-22.

The US Department of Agriculture reported 13.1% of North Carolina households from 2017-2019 did not have enough food, relied on food banks or food stamps, or used other strategies to eat.

Bolding mine, just to highlight where I got that 40%. This is bad news on both fronts. Apparently people aren't taking the warnings about Thanksgiving seriously enough, and we can expect a (possibly huge) spike in Coronavirus cases in early December. But I'm sure some of those folks are also part of the 18% who are food insecure, and congregating may be the only way they can have a meal tomorrow. Or the day after. Here's some analysis from the NCCU survey folks:

Environmental justice should be one of your top five priorities

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At the intersection of pollution and socioeconomic despair:

We can see the through lines between climate change, polluting industries, and COVID-19 at North Carolina’s numerous factory farms. These farms, which can contain millions of hogs, chickens, and turkeys, struggle to keep hazardous animal waste pits called “lagoons” from repeatedly washing away due to hurricane flooding. Toxic animal waste pollutes river basins and streams, and flows into the Atlantic Ocean, creating algal blooms that harm aquatic ecosystems. In addition, some of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in our area are with Black and Brown factory farm workers who’ve been denied proper protective equipment. Separately, factory farms, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic are all extremely dangerous; but combined, lagoons overflowed by hurricanes and the poor working conditions that sicken workers are killing people, the economy, and the ecosystem.

These problems simply cannot be fixed from the top-down. Zoning is one of the major factors in environmental injustice, and that is (for the most part) a local government function. Zoning maps that were created in the 20th Century are usually only updated every ten years or so, and those updates are "tweaks," mostly focused on expanding population. The inequities built into that system (industrial zones near black neighborhoods) rarely come under scrutiny, and the refusal to zone in unincorporated areas by county commissioners is even worse. It's a major health problem for communities of color, and has gotten worse since the NIH studied it 20 years ago:

Serve and protect whom? Alarming trends in law enforcement

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Battle lines have been drawn, and crossed:

A North Carolina police department supervisor has been disciplined after saying officers confronting demonstrators protesting George Floyd’s death in June were about to “hammer” them.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police sergeant was suspended for two weeks without pay after comments he made during the June 2 protest in which officers deployed tear gas, pepper balls and other chemical agents against largely peaceful demonstrators, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Bolding mine, because police departments are increasingly reversing the "cause & effect" formula in their approach to keeping the peace during protests. They are trying to gain the "upper hand" by using deceptive tactics, like concealing their numbers and then exploding into a "shock and awe" show of force. Which includes preemptive violence to discourage violence, the logic of which is questionable at best. On-the-ground supervisors (like the idiot above) are given more and more discretion so they can "adapt to changing conditions," but in order for that to work well, it requires integrity and intelligence all through the ranks. Which brings us to another (apparently not alarming enough) trend that should have been dealt with 16 years ago:

Missouri moves to expand Medicaid to a quarter of a million citizens

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It's (long) past time for North Carolina to follow suit:

Missouri voters on Tuesday approved Medicaid expansion to many of the state’s poorest adults, making their conservative state the second to join the Obamacare program through the ballot during the pandemic.

The Missouri ballot measure expands Medicaid to about 230,000 low-income residents at a time when the state’s safety net health care program is already experiencing an enrollment surge tied to the pandemic’s economic upheaval. The measure was supported by 53 percent of voters.

This has always been a no-brainer, but the NC GOP's stubborn resistance to anything Obama-related has deprived over half a million of our fellow NC'ians their health and their very lives. I've published the following here before, but here's an Op-Ed I wrote a year ago that never made it past the mainstream media gatekeepers:

Cruelty is the point: The NC GOP's war on the poor & unemployed

There is simply no excuse for this draconian behavior:

It started in 2013 when, just after securing the governorship on top of both houses, the GOP supermajority passed HB4, a bill that made unprecedented cuts to unemployment compensation.

The bill lowered the maximum weekly payment amount from $535 to $350 and completely eliminated state appropriations for unemployment program administration, forcing the program to rely on declining federal funds. As a result, staff time designated to processing initial claims dropped by more than half from 2005 to 2020.

Get that? All these delays in processing the mountain of unemployment claims caused by the pandemic can (and should) be laid at the feet of Legislative Republicans. All this time they've been pointing a finger at Governor Cooper, they should have been pointing it at themselves. That's actually a question I've been trying to answer for a couple months, but I've been approaching it wrong. I looked at budgets going back five years to see if I could find a drop in funding, and couldn't seem to find said line items at all. That's because they're gone, and have been since 2013. Tens of thousands of North Carolinians have suffered because of that, and most of them blame the Cooper administration:

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