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Sexual harassment, Super PACs and fracking 

Bora Zivkovic, the fallen former blog editor of Scientific American should know today whether he still has a seat on the board of the Friends of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. The board's executive committee is expected to meet today about Zivkovic, who admitted to sexually inappropriate advances toward several women who are science journalists.

The Friends of the Museum of Natural Sciences raises money for the nonprofit Raleigh institution. The incidents did not happen at the museum.

As the INDY reported on Oct. 18, Zivkovic, who lives between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, was widely respected nationwide as a proponent for science journalism and women in science.

However, Durham playwright, novelist and MIT graduate Monica Byrne reported on her blog the details of Zivkovic's unwanted advances during a meeting that was ostensibly about her science writing. Several other women followed Byrne's lead, posting online their own lurid accounts of Zivkovic's behavior.

Zivkovic has since apologized. He resigned from Scientific American and the board of ScienceOnline, a nonprofit he co-founded that connects scientists around the world.

Super PAC injects cash into Durham elections

The Greensboro-based N.C. Homeowners Alliance, an arm of the N.C. Realtors PAC, poured at least $47,600 into supporting Durham City Council candidates Pam Karriker and Omar Beasley, according to recent campaign finance reports.

The expenditures were divided evenly between the candidates and paid for flyers mailed to Durham residences.

Beasley, a bail bondsman, opposed Eddie Davis for an open seat in Ward 2. Karriker, a former mortgage banker, ran against incumbent Don Moffitt in Ward 3.

The alliance is an independent expenditure committee—also known as a Super PAC—and can spend and raise unlimited amounts of money to support or endorse candidates. However, the committees cannot coordinate with candidates' campaigns.

Without the alliance's largesse, Beasley raised just $4,186 this election cycle. Davis, a longtime Durham Public Schools teacher and former member of the state board of education, brought in $13,416.

For the Ward 3 race, Karriker collected $6,560, while Moffitt raised nearly $25,000.

The final vote totals for the general election were not available until after press time. Read election results and analysis at the Triangulator blog at indyweek.com.

Pro-fracking attorneys assured North Carolina lawmakers Tuesday that horizontal drilling is safe and recommended ways to update the state's energy statutes, including extending tax breaks to the industry to drill here.

Current legislation allows fracking, but state lawmakers will have to pass additional legislation to greenlight the issuance of permits.

The Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy heard from several attorneys, including Ben Norris of the American Petroleum Institute. He didn't mention the environmental issues associated with fracking—gas migration into the underground aquifers and groundwater, the disposal and storage of contaminated wastewater and well casings that over time can corrode and leak.

Instead, Norris said fracking not only "presents economic security and energy security but an environmental opportunity" for cleaner burning fuel.

This flies in the face of recent state geological studies that raise questions about the amount of gas that could be extracted in North Carolina. It is also likely that gas extracted in North Carolina would not be used here, but rather, sold on the commodities market.

None of this industry slant, though, is surprising. State Rep. Mike Hager, co-chairman of the energy policy commission, is a member of ALEC, a conservative Koch-Brothers affiliated group that creates model legislation for states. Hager pushed an ALEC bill this year that would have repealed renewable energy standards. ALEC and the Koch Brothers have long supported fossil-fuel friendly legislation.

The meeting was in progress at press time. Read more on the Triangulator blog at indyweek.com.

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