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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cookie monsters: Gov. McCrory, Blanche Taylor Moore

Posted by on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Sometimes a plate of cookies is not a plate of cookies, Gov. McCrory. Ask Blanche Taylor Moore.

There was plenty of outrage over McCrory's hollow—and sexist—gesture of handing a plate of cookies to women who were protesting in Raleigh over his signing of the abortion bill. But the Guv was only continuing a tradition of North Carolinians who hide agendas among the chocolate chips.

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Alamance County killer Blanche Taylor Moore was convicted of the 1986 murderer of her boyfriend by slipping arsenic into his food, including cookies. She was sentenced to death in 1991 and remains on death row. She has always maintained her innocence.

The bodies of her father, mother-in-law and first husband were exhumed and tests showed they suffered from arsenic poisoning. Although she faced an additional murder charges, the prosecution chose not to pursue those cases.

A made-for-TV movie, Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story, aired in 1993. It starred starring Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame.

Hat tip: Robb Kehoe

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    Besides Gov. McCrory, guess what other North Carolinian gave people cookies? Convicted murderer Blanche Taylor Moore.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Headliner Big Boi cancels Hopscotch date

Posted by on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Atlanta hip-hop star Big Boi, who was scheduled to headline a Sept. 6 show at Raleigh's City Plaza as part of the Hopscotch Music Festival, will no longer perform as part of the festival, Hopscotch co-directors Greg Lowenhagen and Grayson Currin confirmed Friday afternoon.

[Disclosure: Currin is also music editor of INDY Week, which no longer owns Hopscotch. Since last fall, the festival has been owned by Carolina Independent Publications. CIP retained ownership of the festival after it sold the INDY to ZM Indy, Inc., in October 2012.]

However, festival organizers have known about the cancellation for more than a week, but continued to sell tickets and wristbands without an announcement. As of Friday afternoon, Big Boi was still listed as the Sept. 6 headliner on Hopscotch's website. About two hours after the INDY interviewed Lowenhagen and Currin, the festival posted an announcement about the cancellation to its website.

Currin acknowledged that Hopscotch had been aware of Big Boi's Sept. 6 cancellation for more than a week without an announcement. "The goal is to figure out how to fix it," he said. "That's the reason we had not made an announcement yet—because we're trying to be proactive about fixing a bad situation."

"We found out not very long ago that due to an injury Big Boi suffered to his leg, he had to reschedule his entire year," Currin added. "In conversations with his management, we were just not able to salvage the show on Sept. 6."

It's possible Big Boi will still play a Raleigh date shortly after Hopscotch, according to Lowenhagen. "We're working on a potential make-good show that we are hoping will happen at Memorial Auditorium on Sept. 21," Lowenhagen said. "We've learned that the venue is available, and we have a production team in place to produce the show. We're hoping to confirm it by the end of this weekend."

Lowenhagen added that the festival plans to provide a comprehensive update on Tuesday. "For now, what we want to do is make sure that we get all of the information available to us packaged into one large announcement," Lowenhagen said.

That announcement would include naming Big Boi's replacement on the Sept. 6 City Plaza bill, details on the potential Sept. 21 Memorial Auditorium makeup date (and ticket information for Hopscotch customers), and how customers can get refunds if they want, Lowenhagen said.

Ticketholders would have had access to Big Boi's City Plaza performance include purchasers of three-day wristbands, a one-day pass to all Sept. 6 Hopscotch shows, and single-show passes to just the Sept. 6 City Plaza concert.

Currin and Lowenhagen declined to identify the new acts on the Sept. 6 City Plaza lineup, but Lowenhagen said that Big Boi will be replaced by two acts, for "our first-ever four-band bill at City Plaza." The lineup currently includes Baltimore band Future Islands and Durham's Gross Ghost. "I think that what we have now will be as good if not better for the festival," Currin said.

Currin acknowledged that Big Boi was "probably the most famous person that was playing Hopscotch 2013. But the reason I remain enthusiastic is that it's not about one band, it's not about 10 bands, it's about well more than 100 bands" playing the festival from Sept. 5-7 in downtown Raleigh venues.

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    Leg injury forced hip-hop star to bow out more than a week ago

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

U.S. Justice Department announces it intends to sue states over voting rights laws

Posted by on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 12:05 PM

The Washington Post is reporting that the U.S. Justice Department intends to sue states to prevent them from enacting parts of new voting rights laws, including requiring specific forms of photo identification.

North Carolina could be one of those states if House Bill 589 becomes law.

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    North Carolina could be sued if omnibus election bill HB 589 becomes law.

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David Price, G.K. Butterfield, Renee Ellmers and George Holding vote to continue NSA spying program

Posted by on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 11:49 AM

All but one of the Triangle’s U.S. House members voted against a measure that would have curbed the National Security Agency's collection of telephone call records and data on people in the U.S.

The vote margin was narrow, 217—205 with the majority of House members rejecting a check on NSA's surveillance program. Among those in the majority were Republicans George Holding and Renee Ellmers and Democrats David Price and G.K. Butterfield.

Howard Coble, who represents the 6th District that includes parts of Durham and Orange Counties, did not vote. He is in a Washington, D.C. hospital recovering from hernia surgery.

Politico has an interesting analysis of how dissent over the spying program split both parties. Those in favor of curbing NSA’s power argue that it has overstepped its constitutional boundaries and is tantamount to domestic spying. Those against counter that the intrusions are necessary to fight terrorism.

Four North Carolina representatives did vote against the NSA program: Republicans Walter Jones, Patrick McHenry and Mark Meadows and Democrat Mel Watt.

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    Four of five House members from the Triangle agree: Let NSA keep spying

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Any monkey with a typewriter: GOP's Claude Pope lashes out at NYT editorial board

Posted by on Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Hands off your keyboards, North Carolina Republicans.

First Gov. Pat McCrory responded to a scathing New York Times editorial, published July 9, that criticized the Republican-dominated state legislature for the "grotesque damage" it is wreaking on North Carolina.

Now the N.C. GOP Chairman Claude Pope, a close friend of McCrory, has chimed in, penning open letter to the NYT editorial board.

It begins: "Thank you, New York Times. We southern hillbillies are always honored when the Old Gray Lady’s beacons of intelligence bestow their political wisdom from on high."

And it heads downhill—or is it down hillbilly?—from there.

"Why else would you be so serious about leaving the unemployed stuck in poverty, instead of helping them climb out of it by creating new jobs?" Pope writes.

Could these be the same unemployed people whose benefits were reduced or eliminated thanks to state Republicans?

He cites the state's "horrendous" high school drop out rates. Did Pope see that the rate hit a record low in 2011—2012?

And the double-digit unemployment Pope references was the byproduct of the 2008 Great Recession, during which 19 states, including North Carolina, recorded jobless rates of higher than 10 percent. But by January 2013, before the state GOP could really sink its teeth in, no states—not even the hillbilly Tar Heels—hit that threshold.

Pope rebutted the Times' contention that voter ID laws are being “rushed” through. They "have actually been in the works since January," Pope wrote. Yes, it's taken a long seven months to move one of the most pivotal pieces of legislation that could damage electoral democracy for years, even decades.

And he complained that the Times hasn't endorsed a Republican presidential candidate since Eisenhower in 1956. That means the newspaper did not endorse Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, Bush I and II, John McCain and Mitt Romney, none of whom met the Times' "elite editorial standards."

Touché!

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    Claude Pope calls out the Times' "Ivy League hearts" and "elite editorial standards" for criticizing N.C.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage challenged by ACLU

Posted by on Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 12:16 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union and its North Carolina branch announced today plans to challenge North Carolina's ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

The civil liberties group plans to amend the language in a previous federal lawsuit that challenged the state's ban on second parent adoptions, which is the process by which one partner in a couple adopts the other partner's child.

Fisher-Borne v. Smith was filed last year in the Middle District of North Carolina challenging the state's ban on second parent adoption. Today, the ACLU is asking Attorney General Roy Cooper to agree to allow an additional claim challenging the state's ban on marriage.

The move comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on United States v. Windsor, which found that the federal Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

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  • ACLU


One of the couples serving as plaintiffs in Fisher-Borne is from Durham. Marcie and Chantelle Fisher-Borne (pictured) have been together for 16 years. Each woman carried one of their two children, ages 5 and 1. They were legally married in Washington, D.C., in 2011, but their marriage is not recognized by North Carolina law.

"Our children have two parents who love them dearly," said Chantelle Fisher-Borne in a press release. "Our children deserve the security of having both Marcie and me as legally recognized parents, and marriage is the best way for us to provide that to them."

If the Attorney General's office does not agree to the addition of the new claim, the ACLU will petition the court to allow the claim to be added.

Also today, the ACLU filed a federal challenge to the marriage bans in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
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    The civil liberties group plans to amend the language in a previous federal lawsuit that challenged the state's ban on second parent adoptions.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Moral Monday momentum continues

Posted by on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 10:19 PM

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    The 10th week of Moral Mondays in tweets, photos and more. Roughly 3,000 people, the biggest crowd yet; 64 arrested.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Ag-gag bill meets opposition at hearing

Posted by on Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Millions of animals in factory farms live in horrific conditions, and a bill in the N.C. Legislature would make it harder to uncover abuse.

The NC Commerce Protection Act of 2013, among else, would create penalties for employment fraud. However, section one of the Senate Bill 648 is better known under some of its other names: an ag-gag bill and a whistleblower suppression bill. The measure targets people who go undercover to expose animal cruelty or food safety issues on farms across the state.

The bill comes after a 2012 undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals at a Butterball turkey farm in North Carolina that revealed workers beating birds with metal rods, stomping, kicking them and violently throwing them into cages. Widespread media reports show that many animals on industrialized farms —chickens, cows, pigs—spend their whole lives, prior to being slaughtered, confined in crowded cages or barns—far from the “cows grazing on fields of green grass” image that big businesses present.

After several committee hearings and changes, SB 648 still would outlaw making false statements on a job application in order to conduct undercover investigations. It would be a criminal offense, punishable by a minimum fine of $10,000 for a first conviction. All recorded material should be handed to law enforcement and not be distributed anywhere else. Instead of having the initial 24 hours to turn over evidence, the bill was tweaked to extend that time to 48 hours, which still raises constitutional issues. If you surrender the evidence, you may incriminate yourself, a violation of the Fifth Amendment.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Duplin, Johnston and Sampson counties, is a farmer and agribusinessman—the very industry under fire by these investigations. He explained that the new changes assure news media would not be prosecuted if they were to air footage obtained by an undercover investigator.

At the latest committee hearing on Tuesday, Matthew Dominguez, public policy manager of the Humane Society of the United States, warned that “if this bill is to pass in North Carolina, you are making a safe haven for unethical and illegal activity, you are going to see unscrupulous business practice happen and the reason it's going to happen is because there will be no way to blow the whistle on it. And that's exactly what the N.C. Chamber of Commerce and the poultry industry want.”

Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, Iredell and Rowan counties, used the 1992 Food Lion case as an example of why the bill is needed. Two reporters gone undercover as store employees documented workers repackaging spoiled meat—some of it chewed on by rats—for public consumption. Food Lion sued for fraud and trespass, and won, claiming the two reporters had submitted false information on their job applications.

A few other senators did question parts of Section 1, including Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake. “To limit what somebody could do with a videotape, not having anything to do with a trade secret, sounds unconstitutional. But you all haven't had a problem with passing unconstitutional bills in the past,” he said.

The bill still must pass the House and Senate before it can go to Gov. Pat McCrory for ratification.

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    SB 648 would criminalize going undercover to reveal animal and worker abuses

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

N.C. Senate passes omnibus abortion bill, hundreds protest

Posted by on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 1:44 PM

The North Carolina Senate doesn’t have a Wendy Davis.

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What it did have Wednesday morning was a gallery full of 500 people wearing pink, watching quietly as Senators rammed through an omnibus abortion bill, which may lead to the closure of abortion clinics across the state.

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Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, who, along with his fellow Democratic Senators, is outnumbered 33-17 by Republicans, told Republicans that they are inviting a firestorm of protest by forcing the legislation through. If it were allowed to filibuster in the N.C. Senate, he probably would have.

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The legislation would force abortion providers to have “transfer agreements” with a hospital in order to operate. Other news outlets have reported only one abortion provider in North Carolina has such an agreement.

It would also require them to be licensed the same as ambulatory surgical centers and would require a doctor to be present for the entirety of the abortion process. It's unclear how this would effect "medical" abortions, which consists of taking prescription drugs that work over a period of days.

The net effect of such measures, at best, forces abortion providers to jump through an significant amount of regulatory hoops. At worst, it will lead some to shut down.

The bill now heads to the House for approval.

Even Gov. Pat McCrory, who has been awkwardly stuck between the slightly more moderate House and the extremely conservative Senate, is criticizing the Senate’s move.

"When the Democrats were in power, this is the way they did business," a press release quoted him as saying. "It was not right then and it is not right now. Regardless of what party is in charge or what important issue is being discussed, the process must be appropriate and thorough."

McCrory did not make any indication of whether or not he would veto the legislation.

Each time I’ve covered recent General Assembly protests, I meet people who say they were on the fence about coming out to protest. Today was no different. The first five women I interviewed told me they don’t normally do this kind of thing.

"I almost came last Monday," said Oami Powers, "but I own my own business and I just got really busy. Then last night when they rammed this through I just got so angry. I decided to make time. I moved here three years ago and I love it here. My biggest feeling right now is disappointment.'

Once the 29-12 vote took place, one woman was arrested and shouts of "shame on you" came from the gallery, before it was cleared by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

Some protesters stayed outside throughout the protest and remain outside the legislative building. Another protest, “Witness Wednesday,” will take place after a 2 p.m. press conference inside the legislative building.

Some protesters are apparently working on a bat signal, which beams a pink tennis shoe into the sky, in hopes of getting Davis' attention.

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    With no one there to filibuster it into oblivion, the N.C. Senate passed an omnibus abortion bill Wednesday morning, amid a large protest.

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