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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Morning Roundup: N.C. Congressman Mark Meadows Is Donald Trump’s Biggest Fanboy

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 8:24 AM

We're halfway home. Let's go. 1) Durham commissioners approve the light rail plan. In what board chairwomman Wendy Jacobs called "the most important vote that I will make as a county commissioner," the Durham County commissioners approved an updated transit plan that includes light rail, commuter rail, and improvements to bus service. From the INDY's Sarah Willets: The commissioners’ approval was one of the final stops for light rail plans before being submitted to the Federal Transit Administration as part of a grant application. GoTriangle, the agency heading up the project, must submit the plans to the FTA by the end...

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"Protesters Are Economic Terrorists" Bill Dies in Committee

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 7:15 PM

It was a tough day for Republican state Representatives John Torbett and John Faircloth (of Gaston and Guilford counties, respectively), the guys who wanted to label some North Carolina protesters “economic terrorists” and charge them with felonies. Thankfully, House Bill 249 died today in a 6–5 vote. Here’s what HB 249 would have done, from the INDY's Sarah Willets: A bill introduced in the state House today could label some disruptive protesters as “economic terrorists” and criminalizes blocking streets while participating “in a riot or other unlawful assembly.” […] The bill seems to fall in line with others filed recently by Republican...

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Amended Hog Nuisance Bill, Courtesy of Big Pork Pal Senator Brent Jackson, Clears N.C. Senate Committee

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 6:14 PM

An amended version of a controversial hog-farm-protection bill, HB 467, passed the Senate Agriculture Committee Tuesday afternoon and is now headed to the Senate Rules Committee. As the INDY has previously reported, HB 467 would restrict the amount of money property owners could collect in nuisance lawsuits filed against agricultural operations, including hog farms. If passed, it would essentially cap the damages property owners could collect in nuisance lawsuits at the fair market value of their property, which critics say is often made lower by the presence of commercial farms. A particularly contentious (and legally dubious) part of the bill...

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The Morning Roundup: Tensions Escalate on the Korean Peninsula

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 9:01 AM

We might not have much time. Let's get right into it. 1) North Korea flexes its military muscle. Trump sends nuclear submarine as a "show of force." North Korea paraded around some missiles and held a "large-scale artillery drill" to celebrate its military's anniversary. Not a new thing—but this time, there's a catch. Experts say the country is capable of expanding its nuclear arsenal at an alarming rate. From The New York Times: Behind the Trump administration’s sudden urgency in dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis lies a stark calculus: a growing body of expert studies and classified intelligence reports...

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Monday, April 24, 2017

The Morning Roundup: A Forgettable 100 Days of Trump

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 10:11 AM

It's a new week. Let's get going. 1) Critics note Trump's rocky start. Trump disagrees. On Saturday, President Donald Trump will mark his hundredth day in office. From CNN: President Donald Trump lives for superlatives — he wants the biggest, the best, the greatest. So it's no surprise he's already fuming about uncomplimentary reviews of his first 100 days in office. Trump is approaching the first symbolic milestone of his presidency on Saturday with a familiar mix of bluster and smokescreens, meant to disguise the reality that he has produced one of the least-prolific first 100 day debuts of any...

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

“We Are Not Afraid of Action”: Thousands March for Science in Downtown Raleigh

Posted By on Sun, Apr 23, 2017 at 11:56 AM

Thousands of people marched in downtown Raleigh on Saturday to support the worldwide March for Science, under the slogan “Science, not Silence.” With over six hundred cities participating worldwide, the march demonstrated widespread support for the scientific process—and for the role science should play in policymaking. The marches also arose partly in protest of President Trump’s proposals to slash funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, including nearly $6 billion from the National Institutes of Health, as well his rollbacks of anti-climate-change initiatives. In Raleigh, people gathered at Shaw University’s Estey Hall to begin the march. Before it...

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Friday, April 21, 2017

The Morning Roundup: President Trump Brings His Classy Friends to the White House

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 10:11 AM

Welcome to Friday, everyone. Let’s do some headlines. 1. The president brought some classy friends to the White House Wednesday. That would be Kid Rock, Sarah Palin, and Ted Nugent, mocking the official portrait of Hillary Clinton. The New York Times has the tick-tock: “We were there for four hours, man!” Mr. Nugent, a 68-year-old Detroit native, said in a telephone interview on Thursday, using a four-letter expletive to signal his amazement at Mr. Trump’s willingness to spend so much time with his three casually dressed visitors. “He gave us a wonderful personal tour of every room and talked about...

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Days After the NCGA Forced Counties to Pay More for Inmate Hospital Care, the DHHS Dropped Inmates from Medicaid Coverage

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 2:34 PM

A state rule change that made sure Medicaid benefits were cut off for county jail inmates came days after the legislature put responsibility for their hospital care squarely on the backs of county taxpayers. Recent concern about the multimillion-dollar cost of inpatient care for inmates, especially in large counties, put a spotlight on events that took place during 2013, when Medicaid was run by Governor Pat McCrory, Department of Health and Human Services director Aldona Wos, and Medicaid director Carol Steckel. McCrory lost a close gubernatorial race last year, Wos stepped down in 2015, and Steckel left in September 2013...

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HB 500 Sponsor: Wholesalers “Made Clear They Weren’t Going to Discuss” Raising Barrel Cap

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 12:38 PM

At least for now, the North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association has succeeded in quashing a proposal before the General Assembly that would have allowed breweries to self-distribute more of their own beer without having to go through a wholesaler. The group has come out strongly against House Bill 500, which until Wednesday would have raised the self-distribution cap for breweries from twenty-five thousand to two hundred thousand barrels per year and would have made it easier for breweries to get out of distribution agreements. Apparently wholesalers were able to sway enough legislators to keep that language out of...

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Morning Roundup: The GOP’s Obamacare Replacement Is Back from the Dead, Maybe

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 10:48 AM

Good midmorning. Here is your (belated) roundup. 1. Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News. After claims of sexual harassment prompted advertisers to flee, Fox News severed ties with its longtime high-rated cable news host. From The New York Times: Bill O’Reilly’s reign as the top-rated host in cable news came to an abrupt and embarrassing end on Wednesday as Fox News forced him out after the disclosure of a series of sexual harassment allegations against him and an internal investigation that turned up even more. Mr. O’Reilly and his employers came under intense pressure after an article by The...

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wake Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill Has No Good Options to Deal with Coming Budget Crunch

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 7:33 AM

Jim Merrill, superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, has a list of options in the event of a possible fiscal meltdown next school year, but he's not wild about any of them. Along with the system's 159,000 students, more than 10,000 teachers, and nine school board members, Merrill is looking to the state Senate to pass HB 13, which would give school systems flexibility in meeting state-mandated class-size reductions. The state House has already passed the bill, but it has sat in a Senate committee since February. If the Senate doesn't act, systems such as Wake could lose...

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The City of Raleigh Wants to Fix Its “Logo Problem” and Develop a “Narrative Foundation” for Its Brand

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 5:49 PM

Of the images conjured up during a city council work session on how to create a brand for Raleigh, the most memorable came from communications staff member Eric Bannister, a senior graphic designer. Council members were hearing a presentation Tuesday from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, marketing firm Cubic, which had spent weeks in Raleigh interviewing employees and officials as part of an effort to define Raleigh's essence for a new logo and mission statement to arrive in late June. During Cubic's display, Bannister was seen describing an ancient Apple computer, complete with floppy-disc drive. It's possible to get work done on...

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Morning Roundup: In Which POTUS Congratulates a Foreign Leader for Consolidating Power and Undermining Democracy in a Disputed Election

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 8:29 AM

Greetings, and welcome to Tuesday. Let’s get to it: 1. Trump congratulates Turkish President Erdogan on a contested referendum victory. This is problematic for two reasons: 1) Election monitors have spotted numerous irregularities in a very close ballot count. 2) More important, Erdogan was explicitly consolidating his regime’s power at the expense of Turkey’s parliamentary democracy. Here’s how The Washington Post explains it: The juxtaposition of the differing responses [between the White House and the State Department, which urged Turkey to respect the rights of its citizens] underscored the awkward situation faced by many U.S. and European officials in responding...

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Monday, April 17, 2017

The Morning Roundup: North Korea Is Becoming Trump’s Cuban Missile Crisis

Posted By on Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 8:24 AM

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Let’s kick things off with some cheery news. 1. North Korea is “a Cuban Missile Crisis in slow motion.” Despite North Korea’s failed missile test this weekend, the crisis appears to be speeding up. From The New York Times: All the elements of the North Korean nuclear crisis — the relentless drive by Kim Jong-un to assemble an arsenal, the propaganda and deception swirling around his progress, the hints of a covert war by the United States to undermine the effort, rather than be forced into open confrontation — were on vivid display...

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Friday, April 14, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Trump "Bombs the S**t" Out of a Cave Complex in Afghanistan

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 8:48 AM

It's Friday. We made it. So why not end the week with a bang ... 1) U.S. military drops a massive bomb on Afghanistan, an apparent effort to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS. Yesterday, the U.S. military dropped "the mother of all bombs"—the biggest nonnuclear ordnance in the military arsenal, each bomb costing about $16 million—on a cave complex in Afghanistan. According to the Afghan ministry, thirty-six ISIS fighters were killed. From The New York Times: The United States dropped the “mother of all bombs” — the most powerful conventional bomb in the...

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

In Larry Pittman’s Hitler/Lincoln Fiasco, One Republican Wins

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 6:28 PM

We’ll confess to not knowing much about state Representative William Brawley of Mecklenburg County at the moment, other than that the bills he’s sponsored suggest he’s a fairly mainstream Republican. But his response to the Larry Pittman Lincolngate fiasco—Pittman, you’ll recall, wrote on Facebook that the Civil War was unconstitutional and Lincoln was a "tyrant" like Adolf Hitler—earned him points. Take it away: We could go on and on about why this meme is awesome. —The fact that another Republican took a stand against Pittman's comparison of Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler when House Speaker Tim Moore and the N.C....

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Democracy in Crisis Podcast: If Trump Doesn’t Pay His Taxes, Should You?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Feeling crushed by your own taxes, while wondering why President Trump won't release his tax returns? This week, cohost Baynard Woods talks with Democracy in Crisis FOIA expert Mary Finn about her story this week on tax resisters in the Trump era....

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Why Hasn’t the NCGOP Condemned Larry Pittman’s Lincoln-Hitler Comparison?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 2:05 PM

If you’ve been following along, you might be aware that state Representative Larry Pittman, R-Carrabus, who recently introduced a doomed bill to make gay marriage illegal no matter what the Supreme Court says, has revealed his true colors yet again—this time, via a Facebook post that claimed Abraham Lincoln was the “same sort of tyrant” as Adolf Hitler and said the Civil War was unnecessary and unconstitutional.  As a quick recap, here's how it played out: yesterday, Pittman decided to update his 988 Facebook followers with a “legislative newsletter” outlining some of his recent progress on issues like abortion, guns,...

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The Morning Roundup: Legislator Compares Honest Abe to Hitler

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 9:06 AM

If that headline doesn't get you going on a Thursday, nothing will. Let's go. 1) NC House Representative Larry Pittman says Lincoln "same kind of tyrant" as Hitler. Go ahead. Read that again. We'll wait. Wednesday, the INDY broke a story about a Republican legislator who outdid Sean Spicer by claiming, via Facebook, that the Civil War was "unconstitutional" and "unnecessary" and that Abraham Lincoln was like Hitler. From the INDY: Needless to say, that Facebook post, and the story about Pittman, has since gone viral. Happy Passover, everyone. 2) Thanks to New York governor, North Carolina is only...

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Congrats, North Carolina. You're Now the Last State to Prosecute Sixteen- and Seventeen-Year-Olds as Adults

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 5:56 PM

Hats off to you, North Carolina. You've put yourself on the map for all the wrong reasons once again. No, we're not talking about the absurd bill filed yesterday to make gay marriage illegal (Supreme Court, Shmupreme Court, amirite?), or the industry-protecting hog-farm bill moving quickly through the legislature, or even the faux-HB 2 repeal Governor Cooper signed a few weeks ago. Today's topic is juvenile justice—specifically, the treatment of teenagers under the age of eighteen in the criminal justice system. Until recently, North Carolina was one of just two states in the country (along with New York) to prosecute...

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N.C. Representative Larry Pittman Calls Abraham Lincoln the “Same Sort [of] Tyrant” as Hitler and We Are Not Even Making That Up

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 3:19 PM

Here is a relevant screengrab:  Now the context. First came this post, from Representative Larry Pittman, R-Carrabus, to his constituents: Legislative News Letter March 22, 2017 I realize I am a bit overdue for a newsletter. We have been very busy, although it seems relatively few votes have been taken so far, as we have been trying to beat the deadlines for submitting bill requests and filing bills. The House did pass one of my bills already this year. It was a follow-up to Sheyenne’s Law, which became effective Dec. 1, 2016. HB 65, Require Active Time Felony Death MV/Boat,...

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The Morning Roundup: Spicer Says Hitler Not As Bad As Assad, N.C. GOP Wants to End Gay Marriage

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 8:19 AM

The headline really says it all, so let's just jump right in. 1) White House press secretary: Hitler didn't gas his own people. We're really at a loss here. This actually happened. In the White House. Thanks again, Electoral College: There is really not anything funny about this. But there was something really funny about watching CNN's Wolf Blitzer own Spicer later in the day. This is really worth watching, if you haven't seen it: 2) NC GOP wants to ban gay marriage. Well, that didn't take long. The suit Neil Gorsuch wore to be sworn in as the...

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

National River Conservation Organization Says the Neuse Is One of the Country’s Most Endangered Rivers

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 12:01 AM

Travis Graves has hundreds of pictures that he says prove that over the last five years, hundreds of millions of fish have washed ashore along North Carolina’s Neuse River, which runs from northwest Durham into the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds. Those fish kills, the Lower Neuse Riverkeeper says, can be traced to algae blooms that feed off nitrogen and phosphorus. So last fall, when Hurricane Matthew flooded more than a dozen swine lagoons and several chicken farms in eastern North Carolina—all located within the Neuse River’s hundred-year floodplain—sending millions of gallons of nitrogen-rich hog waste and phosphorus-laden chicken excrement...

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Monday, April 10, 2017

House Poised to Send Controversial Hog-Farm-Protection Bill to Senate

Posted By on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 1:53 PM

A vote that could send a controversial hog-farm-protection bill to the state Senate is scheduled for this afternoon at five o’clock. The INDY has previously reported that state Representative Jimmy Dixon—who has received $115,000 in campaign contributions from the pork industry—is the chief sponsor of HB 467, which would protect hog farmers from myriad legal claims, including twenty-six active lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown LLC, the hog division of Smithfield Foods. Nearly every representative (most were Republicans) who voted in favor of the measure Thursday has been a beneficiary of Big Pork’s generosity, including bill cosponsors John Bell and David Lewis. Bell,...

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Big Pork Has Given $272,000 to House Republicans Who Voted in Favor of Hog-Farm-Protection Bill

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 7:41 AM

The INDY has previously reported that state Representative Jimmy Dixon—who has received $115,000 in campaign contributions from the pork industry—is the chief sponsor of a controversial hog-farm-protection bill that passed its second reading in the House Thursday under strange circumstances. And if you’ve been following this story, you know that HB 467 would protect hog farmers from myriad legal claims, including twenty-six active lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown LLC, the hog division of China-owned Smithfield Foods. But of the sixty-four people who voted in favor of the measure Thursday (the vast majority of whom are Republican), Dixon is far from the only person who has...

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Even at 3.3 Billiion it's still worth it. The USA desperately needs to transition to public transportation. Public transportation and …

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