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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

N.C. House Backs Big Pork, Votes to Override Cooper's HB 467 Veto

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 4:37 PM

Governor Cooper's veto of House Bill 467, a bill that would limit liability in agricultural nuisance cases, is halfway to being overridden. The N.C. House voted 74–40 in favor of the override; the vote was mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting for it. The timing is interesting, given that less than a week ago, lawyers representing hundreds of plaintiffs involved in twenty-six federal lawsuits against Murphy-Brown LLC, the hog division of Smithfield Foods, submitted evidence they say proves fecal matter from hog farms is ending up on and likely inside the homes of people who live near them. As...

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Trump Shafts North Carolina After Hurricane Matthew Relief Request

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 12:58 PM

What do you get when your state helps elect a president and then requests $900 million from his administration to help rebuild after one of the worst natural disasters in its history? If you're North Carolina, not much. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, Governor Cooper requested nearly a billion dollars from the Trump administration. Last month, Cooper announced in a press release this morning, he learned that the state would only receive $6.1 million—less than 1 percent of the ask. “Families across Eastern North Carolina need help to rebuild and recover, and it is an incredible failure by the...

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Friday, May 5, 2017

UPDATED: Study Shows N.C. Hog Farms Spray Hog Poop on Neighbors’ Homes; Cooper Vetoes HB 467

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 10:16 AM

During a debate last month over House Bill 467—a failed proposal to shield hog farms owned by a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods from twenty-six federal nuisance lawsuits brought by their neighbors—state representative and bill sponsor Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin and Wayne, called claims that hog waste was ending up on people’s homes preposterous. What’s more, he continued, the people making those claims were lying. "These allegations are at best exaggerations and at worst outright lies," said Dixon, a retired farmer who has received more than $115,000 in campaign contributions from Big Pork. "When you talk about spraying fluid on people's' houses...

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Poll: Trump Tanking in North Carolina

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 11:43 AM

As the nation prepares to mark President Donald Trump's hundredth day in office, a new poll suggests that the man who captured nearly fifty percent of the popular vote in North Carolina is no longer feeling the same level of love from the Old North State. The Elon University Poll conducted a live-called survey of more than 500 registered voters between April 18 and April 21 and the news was less than spectacular for Trump. From the report: 41.6% of North Carolinians approve of how Trump is handling his job as president. North Carolina voters’ approval of Trump tracks closely with...

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

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 Downtown Raleigh Alliance Says Downtown Raleigh Is Growing Fast and Growing Right

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 2:02 PM

According to a lengthy report released Tuesday by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, the City of Oaks is growing rapidly and adding amenities indicative of the right kind of expansion. Among the highlights noted in the annual State of Downtown Raleigh report are: • $1.75 billion in recent, ongoing, and upcoming development; • 3,672 new residential units; • $200 million in food and beverage sales last year • An additional one thousand hotel rooms coming to the city's core; • The construction of three hundred acres of additional green space. If you have some time to kill, check out the complete...

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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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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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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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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hog Farm-Protection Bill Passes State House Under Weird Circumstances

Posted By on Thu, Apr 6, 2017 at 4:32 PM

A controversial hog-farm-protection bill—cosponsored by State Representative Jimmy Dixon, who has taken more than $115,000 from Big Pork during his political career—passed its second reading Thursday in bizarre fashion. The vote for the bill, HB 467—which protects farmers from myriad legal claims, including twenty-six active lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown LLC, the hog division of China owned Smithfield Foods—was without debate Thursday afternoon. After it passed 70–42, several representatives said they wanted to change their votes, but a motion for a revote failed. Oddly enough, several moments later, the General Assembly’s website changed the vote tally to 64–48. HB 467 needs one more vote to clear...

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bill Would Protect Hog Farmers From Lawsuits; Activists and Neighbors Aren’t Pleased

Posted By on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 at 7:43 AM

State Representative Jimmy Dixon, R-Wayne and Duplin, the first to speak during a packed committee hearing inside the legislature Wednesday, kicked things off with a rather strange request. “I want to take us back a few years, to 1859, when soon-to-be President Abraham Lincoln addressed the opening day of the Wisconsin Agriculture Fair,” he said. “I will use that as a springboard in explaining this bill.” It’s an apt metaphor for the state Republican Party these days: Why go forward when you could go 150 years back? The irony didn't go unnoticed. “I was hoping that you would...

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Raleigh Father of Seven Faces Deportation, the Never-Ending HB 2 Saga Continues

Posted By on Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 8:58 AM

The week is halfway home. Let's dig in. 1) NCAA makes threat re: HB 2. GOP agrees to "deal." Governor says there was no deal. The NCAA threw down the gauntlet Tuesday morning—telling the legislature it had forty-eight hours to kill HB 2 unless it wanted to lose hosting rights to all NCAA championships through 2022. Things got pretty crazy after that. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore held a press conference to announce they agreed, "in principle," with a compromise offered by Governor Cooper. There's just one catch. Cooper denies ever formally offering a deal. Here's...

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Charles Murray Talks About White People Problems at Duke; Trump Threatens N.C. Republican

Posted By on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 9:05 AM

Good morning, one and all. Away. We. Go. 1) Charles Murray avoids calling blacks inferior during his lecture at Duke University Tuesday. Amazing when the headline is about somebody not making the horrific comments he's become kind of known for. But his lack of blatant racism begs the question: Is our buddy Charles, a man labeled a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, evolving? We doubt it. But anyway, INDY reporter Sarah Willets burned some of her remaining hours on Earth last night having to listen to this guy do his thing. Click here to read all about it. Oh,...

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Friday, December 30, 2016

NCDHHS Employee Called Elizabeth Warren a "Dike!!!!" [sic] in State Email

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 12:09 PM

Ever wonder what McCrory administration employees do on taxpayer time? Well, here's an email from July in which a Trump-loving N.C. Department of Health and Human Services project manager named Janet Hensel sounded off on the Democratic National Convention ... and a certain senator from Massachusetts, an allegedly insufficient quantity of American flags on the DNC stage, and the presence of Paul Simon, Eva Longoria, and Susan Sarandon, the latter two whose names Janet misspelled. (This email was sent to the INDY as part of a batch of emails released in response to an unrelated public records request.) In case...

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Today, We End This

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 7:58 AM

Good morning, guys and gals. The great American nightmare that has seen the rise of the worst presidential candidate in history is almost over. And in the interest of time—because instead of reading this, we would rather you were voting—we're going to keep this short and sweet. Let's dive in. 1) Trump showed up in Raleigh yesterday, lied within thirty seconds of taking stage. According to the Donald, there were thousands of people still waiting to pack into Dorton Arena when his speech began. THOUSANDS! Well, we checked. There were less than 100—and a handful of them were the men...

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Undercover at North Carolina's Final Gathering of Trump's Army

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 9:19 PM

The first thing that struck me was the parking lot—how a nearly silent stretch of pavement could speak so loudly through vitriolic bumper stickers (including, many times over, the ever-popular slogan “Hillary for Prison”) and derogatory messages (most about President Barack Obama) painted on car windows. I mean, these vehicles, for the most part, weren’t even carrying messages of support for the man set to speak hours later inside the arena located a few hundred yards away. And as I walked toward the venue, I found more of the same in the T-shirts, hats and buttons being hawked by those...

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Friday, October 21, 2016

To Keep Track of Trees, Durham Branches Out to Develop Inventory, Assessment

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 3:18 PM

Durham takes its trees seriously. In neighborhoods on the west side of town residents take pride in their huge willow oaks—the sprawling branches provide shade in the summer and plenty of leaves to play in during the fall. But those trees are in danger, and will likely die within the next decade. There’s also an equity problem in terms of urban forestry—the neighborhoods on the east side of Durham have few trees. The city has been working to address both problems—the pending death of many of the street trees and the inequity of trees in the city. On Thursday,...

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Following a Federal Settlement, Duke Energy Is Funding Solar Schools across N.C.—Including in Durham

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 9:41 AM

NC Green Power, a Raleigh nonprofit, is partnering with Duke Energy to provide 100 percent of the cost of solar for ten schools in the Duke Energy Carolinas territory—essentially, from Durham to west of Charlotte along I-85. The program stems from a September 2015 settlement between Duke and the federal government over the energy giant’s alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. Duke will invest $300,000 in solar photovoltaic systems for schools—which must apply by December 2—as part of a $4.4 million settlement that commits Duke to funding environmental projects. Duke will base its solar PV project on NC Green...

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Duke Energy Operates Several of the Nation's 'Super Polluters,' Report Finds

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 10:07 AM

If you stuck around and slogged through the vice presidential debate Tuesday night, you might have heard Republican candidate Mike Pence talk about Democrats' "war on coal." Pence's running mate has been using this language a lot recently, too. It's very obviously an attempt to court disenfranchised white voters in places like Appalachia, where coal production has plummeted due to the emergence of cleaner and cheaper energy sources like natural gas. This here is a pretty handy chart.  Last week, the Center for Public Integrity published a superbly researched report called "America's Super Polluters." You should read it. Among the...

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Hillsborough Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Up in North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmentalist groups continue to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, which seeks to carry as much as 400,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Bakken region of western North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa before connecting with an existing pipeline in Illinois. This path darts across ancestral Native American land and under the Missouri River. Opposition to the pipeline scored a victory last week, when the federal government temporarily halted construction of the 1,134-mile project.  As protesters hold their ground and brace for the next steps, organizers across the country...

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Chelsea Avoids Plague, NCAA Avoids McCrory's North Carolina

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 7:41 AM

Good morning, folks. And for those of you who consider the opportunity to laugh at lunacy a gift, this isn't just any morning. This is Christmas morning. So let's dive toward that tree and start ripping through some wrapping paper ... so to speak. 1) NCAA pulls tournament games from North Carolina because of HB 2. Sorry college basketball, women's and men's soccer, golf, lacrosse, tennis and baseball fans. This just happened because of HB 2 (and, more to the point, that guy who lives in the Governor's Mansion). From the INDY: Greensboro was slated to host first- and second-round...

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Breaking: Red Wolf Recovery Program Spared by Feds

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 2:19 PM

Despite an aggressive lobbying effort by some North Carolina officials—an effort confirmed by a legislative source a few weeks ago—the roughly forty red wolves living in the eastern part of the state will live on. Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this afternoon that the federal government would not be abandoning the Red Wolf Recovery Program, a decades-old effort to save an animal that was on the brink of extinction when it was officially listed as an endangered species in 1967—a decision that is being celebrated by advocates.  "Our reality is, red wolves in the wild will require intensive, hands-on...

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Friday, May 27, 2016

The Morning Roundup: The End of Days Is Officially Nigh

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 8:29 AM

1. The Four Horseman are suiting up. We’ll begin with an item that, while not really being “news,” is nonetheless kind of mind-boggling: Donald Trump—the orange-hued reality-TV insult comic, the animated incarnation of those conspiracy chain emails your aunt sends you—will officially be the Republican Party’s nominee for president. Of the United States.  God help us all.  The New York billionaire shrugged off signs of discord in his party hours after sewing up the number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination, a feat that completed an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the...

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Remember this when you vote on healthcare, Sen. Tillis.

by StarSword on Updated: Thom Tillis Collapses, Taken Away in Ambulance, Says He’s Fine (News)

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Remember this when you vote on healthcare, Sen. Tillis.

by StarSword on Updated: Thom Tillis Collapses, Taken Away in Ambulance, Says He’s Fine (News)

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