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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Common Sense: State shouldn't execute the severely mentally ill

Posted by on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 4:35 PM

If and when the state resumes executions, a 2001 law protects convicted criminals with serious development disabilities (generally, those with an IQ below 70) ... but nothing in our law says a criminal with a severe mental disorder can't be put to death. The Common Sense Foundation, located in Durham, thinks it's time to end that practice too:

December 11  - If the state is going to be in the grisly business of killing its own citizens through capital punishment, then at the very least it should reserve that punishment for the worst of the worst. Yet North Carolina does not have any law protecting the severely mentally ill from execution, despite clear evidence that serious mental illness reduces culpability.

More than 10% of the current occupants of North Carolina's death row suffer from multiple forms of severe mental illness. Their diagnoses range from paranoid schizophrenia to severe depression with psychotic features, and their life stories often include multiple suicide attempts and serious physical abuse. Their mental illness histories read like an abnormal

psychology textbook.

The Common Sense Foundation did a comprehensive study of the documented public record for all 162 of the individuals on North Carolina's death row and found at least 20 cases that featured diagnoses of at least two major psychotic or mood disorders. Many of these cases also feature suicide attempts, childhood abuse histories, and even hospitalization for mental illness.

The full report, by Lisa Szyc and executive director David Mills is online here (PDF).

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Raleigh comp plan: More time needed for review, Rindge says

Posted by on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 3:42 PM

Fresh off her Citizen Award from the Indy, WakeUP Wake County chair Karen Rindge asks the Raleigh City Council to extend the period of public review for the new comprehensive plan. The giant plan, printed copies of which are in very limited supply, was unveiled only a week ago, and the public review period is so far scheduled to end on Jan. 31. With the holidays and various inaugurations in between, it's not enough time, Rindge said in a letter today to Mayor Charles Meeker and his seven council mates:

WakeUP Wake County would like to commend Mitch Silver, Ken Bowers and the

Raleigh planning staff for their tremendous work in producing the large

draft comprehensive plan for our city's future.

Given the importance of this document, we believe that the public should be

given more time to review the more than 300 pages of the draft plan. A

January 31 deadline does not permit citizen groups, made up of volunteers,

the time to read, discuss and provide useful comments. The holidays,

inauguration activities and more will prevent most people from really

examining it during this timeframe. WakeUP respectfully requests that you

move the deadline for public comment to the end of February, 2009.

Every public library is supposed to have a copy of the plan. Otherwise, it's available online on the city's website -- if you know where to look.

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Ask Obama anything.

Posted by on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 2:10 PM

Obamaland is now open for your questions at -- which the President-elect will answer when he has a free moment.

But seriously, Obama's transition office and forthcoming White House are opening themselves up to a public process of taking the questions we the peoples think (per our votes) are the most important. That's right, we get to keep right on voting -- and really, didn't you have fun voting in November?

TPM's got a good analysis:

The Obama team is clearly exposing itself to a bit of a risk here. It could find itself choosing between answering an uncomfortable question and ducking one that the public is clamoring for an answer to. And if the state of the country fails to improve (or gets even worse) over the next few years, the public could also end up registering more and more negative questions.

The way it works: 1) questions are submitted by me and thee; 2) everybody votes on 'em, good, bad or inappropriate; 3) Obama's team promises to answer the ones with the most "good" votes.

For example, this question from one JMX is probably going to be voted off the island:

"I think Michelle Obama is a fine woman.

"Where would you recommend going to meet a girl like her?"

Whereas this question, from Diane (NJ), is currently getting the most "goods":

"What will you do to establish transparency and safeguards against waste with the rest of the Wall Street bailout money?"

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NPR's cuts don't (necessarily) mean cuts at WUNC

Posted by on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 11:57 AM

Yesterday, NPR announced it would lay off 7 percent of its workforce and eliminate two daily programs.

So how is WUNC, the Triangle’s NPR station, affected by the cuts?

WUNC’s CEO and Interim General Manager Robert Levin said the station aired only one of the programs, “Day to Day,” and is considering what to put in that 3 p.m. time slot. “The main flagship shows are not in jeopardy, fortunately,” he said.

Stations like WUNC pay to air NPR’s programming but are independent of NPR, raising and managing their own budgets, so NPR's plans to lay off 64 employees and cut budgets do not directly affect WUNC. “We haven’t had any layoffs we’re not planning to," Levin said. "We’re just trying to keep our budget as tight as we can."

While the station’s latest fundraising drive was “fantastic,” Levin said underwriting – the public radio equivalent of advertising – is down between 6 and 7 percent this year.

He said he has not heard whether NPR plans to increase its programming fees. Programming and production (for all shows) cost WUNC $3.6 million – more than half of its $6.4 million operating budget in the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the most recent for which financial information is available (PDF).

Update (12/12/08): Laura Leslie, WUNC's state politics reporter, has some news from NPR's Washington office about who's been laid off at her blog, Isaac Hunter's Tavern.

Reader Anthony Wilson yesterday pointed out that two other local public stations, WNCU and WSHA, run NPR programming, including the other axed show "News & Notes." The program is hosted by reporter Farai Chideya and covers topics of concern to African-Americans. It airs at 5 p.m. weekdays on WNCU and at 1 p.m. weekdays on WSHA.

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UNC students' flashmob rave at the library

Posted by on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 11:15 AM

Maybe we should all try the Tar Heel approach to dealing with stress. These UNC students danced it out at the undergraduate library.

More at the Daily Tar Heel's blog.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Broughton HS: No magnet needed

Posted by on Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 4:21 PM

The Wake County school board, by a 5-4 vote, strips Broughton of IB magnet program. Central Raleigh's OK without it -- is the logic.

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PPP to Roy Cooper: You'd beat Burr (if the 2010 election were held today)

Posted by on Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 3:36 PM

Will Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, take the plunge in the '10 race against U.S. Senator Richard Burr, R-NC? Dean Debnam, Public Policy Polling's president, clearly thinks he oughta. Not to be a pushy PPP president, but he did take a poll. It gives Cooper a 5-point edge. Today.

Says Debnam, in a press release:

In their potential head to head, Burr and Cooper perform almost equally well within their

own parties. Any time a Democrat can do that in North Carolina, he or she is going to

win a statewide race due to the state’s significant Democratic identification advantage.

“This poll confirms what many people already thought: Roy Cooper is the strongest

potential Democratic opponent for Richard Burr in 2010," said Dean Debnam, President

of Public Policy Polling. “He is just as well known statewide as the incumbent Senator,

and better liked. He would be quite a formidable candidate.”

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Nortel considering bankruptcy

Posted by on Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 3:09 PM

Wall Street Journal reports (and WRAL's LocalTechWire follows) that the Canadian company may seek a bailout from its home government. The 2,000 Nortel employees in the Triangle would probably appreciate that.

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More bad news for Southpoint owner

Posted by on Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 11:36 AM

General Growth Properties, which owns Southpoint Mall in Durham and about 200 other malls throughout the U.S., has been downgraded by Fitch Ratings, reports the Florida Business Journal. That means a default may be imminent. On Dec. 1, the Journal reports, the company had received a two-week extension on $900 million in mortgage loans that came due Nov. 28.

Last month quoted Southpoint's general manager as saying He said the shopping center is "very successful" and that stores there are safe.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kennedy coming to NC to address environmental decline

Posted by on Tue, Dec 9, 2008 at 6:56 PM

Bobby Kennedy Jr. will speak Jan. 12 at a summit in New Bern about the environmental degradation and deregulation that occurred during the Bush administration—and how to change under a new president.



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This is a Triangle-wide problem now. As bad as it is in Durham, it's worse in Raleigh. Rents are skyrocketing …

by Rob Ridings on Durham development: What's being built where and who can afford it? (News)

Good for her. It would be nice to see a trial schedule published, so that interested parties might bear witness.

by seanc on N.C. protestors refuse deal from courts (News)

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