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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Dear DPAC, We Really Need to Talk About Jordan Peterson

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 6:41 AM

Dear DPAC, your friends at the INDY here. Might we have a quick word? This week, you announced that you’ll be hosting “cultural critic” Jordan B. Peterson in September. “The show,” you explained, “will feature revolutionary talks on overcoming life’s biggest obstacles, how to improve oneself, the psychology of religion, mythology and much more.” While this undoubtedly came straight from Peterson’s press packet, we think you owe it to the Triangle to be a bit more transparent about his controversial (i.e., regressive, backward, and hate-mongering) touchstone topics. Because here’s the thing, DPAC: Context matters. Durham exists—for better or for worse—in the...

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Big Pork Rallies as the General Assembly Protects Chinese-Owned Smithfield Foods From Nuisance Lawsuits

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 10:28 AM

On Monday afternoon, hundreds of farmers, their families, and employees of Smithfield Foods gathered at Bicentennial Mall in Raleigh to show support for the Republican legislature’s annual Farm Bill. The so-called Rally for Agriculture, which featured Lieutenant Governor Dan Forrest, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, and bill sponsor Senator Brent Jackson—a farmer with his history of troublesome practices—came soon after another downtown event protesting the bill’s controversial sections 9 and 10, and just hours before Governor Cooper vetoed the bill. On Tuesday, the Senate overrode Cooper’s veto. The House followed suit today. As originally drafted, Sections 9 and 10 of...

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

On World Refugee Day, Take It From Someone Who’s Been in Their Shoes: The U.S. Must Welcome Refugees

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 9:21 AM

I remember the day I thought I wouldn’t survive—the day I thought my family would never be safe again. It came ten days after my husband was kidnapped from our home in the Congo. Racked with worry, I couldn’t imagine what would happen next. The same rebels who took my husband took me and my own boy and girl and a niece to the forest. They tried to rape us in front of the kids. Because he did not want to witness his mother being raped, my son ran into the forest and was chased by a group of the...

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dallas Woodhouse Believes Undocumented Immigrants Are “Infesting” the Country

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 11:07 AM

Are you among the vast majority of Americans who are pissed off that the Trump administration is ripping crying children from their parents’ arms and throwing them into cages to use as leverage in the president’s quest for a border wall? Are you angry about Trumpworld’s shifting explanations and outright mendacity, the fearmongering and bogus justifications that cannot veil the throughline of white supremacy that animates the White House’s immigration policies (crafted by dead-eyed Duke grad Stephen Miller)? Are you tired of the president lying repeatedly and shamelessly that his policy of separating children from their parents isn’t actually his...

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Should Apple and Amazon Ditch the Triangle Because of the General Assembly’s Voter ID Initiative?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 2:09 PM

The advocacy group Color of Change is calling on Amazon and Apple to drop North Carolina from consideration for their new locations in response to a bill introduced by House Republicans on Thursday. The bill proposes to amend the state constitution to require that voters present photo identification at the polls. If it passes, voters will decide in November whether to add the following paragraph to the constitution: “Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.” The bill does not specify what forms of ID would qualify for voting....

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

A New Bill Would Allow the City Council to See Police Body-Camera Recordings—But Only in Asheville

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 11:02 AM

A local bill filed in the state House of Representatives yesterday would allow the Asheville City Council to review police body-camera recordings—a right that would not be extended to other city councils or citizens throughout the state. House Bill 1087, sponsored by three Buncombe County Democrats, changes the state’s controversial law governing the release of body-camera footage to allow (though not require) law-enforcement officials to share the footage with city council members in Asheville in a closed session, meaning the public will not be allowed to review the footage and the council members will be required to sign nondisclosure agreements...

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Is the General Assembly About to Kill Light Rail?

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2018 at 7:07 AM

The budget adjustment Republicans in the General Assembly crafted behind closed doors, unveiled last night, and are expected to pass by a veto-proof supermajority later this week—for the first time in modern history, without an opportunity for lawmakers to offer amendments, because democracy is for suckers—does a lot of things. It keeps the tax cuts coming, lowering the personal income-tax rate to 5.25 percent (from 5.499 percent), cutting the corporate tax rate from 3 percent to 2.5 percent, and throwing a ton of incentive money at major new economic projects (cough Apple cough). It includes an average 6.5 percent raise for...

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Pearl Berlin, North Carolina LGBTQ Icon, Dies at the Age of Ninety-Two

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2018 at 5:41 PM

Pearl Berlin woke up Lennie Gerber every morning for fifty years with “a kiss and a little schmooze.” In 2013, she added two simple words to this morning ritual: “We’re married.” It took over a year for the State of North Carolina to recognize those words as legally true. Berlin, whose fight for marriage equality in North Carolina made her an icon for LGBTQ rights across the country, died Thursday. She was ninety-two years old and just shy of reaching the couple’s anniversary on June 2. Berlin legally married Gerber, eighty-two, in Maine on September 10, 2013, just sixteen months...

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Twenty Thousand People Amass in Downtown Raleigh to Demand Better Education Funding

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 3:04 PM

A sea of red swept across the streets of Raleigh this morning as thousands of teachers from across the state marched to advocate for pay raises along with more supplies and resources for public schools. According to the North Carolina Association of Educators, which coordinated the march, there were upward of twenty thousand people in attendance. An energetic and vocal crowd gathered along South Street near the NCAE headquarters and marched through downtown toward the state legislative building. Along the route, onlookers and business owners gawked at the immense size of the crowd, and news helicopters hummed overhead to...

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Judge Britt Reduces Murphy-Brown’s Punitive Damages to $3.25 Million

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2018 at 3:29 PM

The punitive damages for the ten plaintiffs who recently won their case against pork giant Murphy-Brown have been reduced from $50 million to $3.25 million, according to a decision filed today by U.S. District Court Judge Earl Britt. The decision means that each plaintiff involved in the litigation will now receive $325,0000, a small fraction of the original $5.075 million judgment handed down to each plaintiff by the jury several weeks ago. Britt's decision to impose a cap on punitive damages came after a jury handed down a landmark verdict to the ten plaintiffs suing Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. The...

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Local Activists Condemn the Detention of Up to Twenty-Five Undocumented Immigrants Across the Triangle

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 2:34 PM

On Friday morning, the activist group El Centro Hispano and officials from around North Carolina denounced a spate of ICE raids across the Triangle that have led to the detention of up to twenty-five local undocumented immigrants over the past several weeks. At a press conference, U.S. Representative David Price spoke about his work to protect undocumented families in North Carolina. Price said that he spoke with ICE officials last week and called on them to be honest and transparent about what initiated the raids. However, he said, they offered little new information about their policies and practices. Price said he believes...

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Durham Feels the Bern: The Vermont Senator Stopped By Duke to Chat With Reverend Barber About a “Moral Economy”

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 2:22 PM

Back in October 2015, when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were still battling it out for the Democratic primary, Saturday Night Live took a jab at the Vermont senator during a mock presidential debate. "How are you?" a faux Anderson Cooper asked comedian Larry David, playing Sanders. "I'm good," David replied, nonplussed. "I'm hungry, but I'm good. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to dial it right up to a ten. We're doomed!" It didn't take long for (the real) Sanders to dial it up to a ten last night, as he spoke with the Reverend William J. Barber at the...

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Downtown Raleigh Still Booming, According to Downtown Raleigh Alliance

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 10:14 AM

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance's annual State of Downtown Raleigh report is hot off the presses and continues to highlight historic growth for the center of the City of Oaks. Since 2005, per the report, more than $3 billion in development has been constructed or completed in downtown Raleigh, providing residents with new places to eat, live, work, and play. That growth continued in 2017 and will likely sustain itself in the years to come. Between 2008 and 2016, property values downtown increased 31 percent. Here are some key takeaways: 1) More humans. Downtown Raleigh’s population has grown 179 percent since...

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Farmworker Advocates Call for a Boycott of VUSE E-Cigs Until R.J. Reynolds Guarantees the Right to Unionize

Posted By on Fri, Apr 13, 2018 at 5:23 PM

At its convention last September, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee voted to approve a boycott of VUSE e-cigarettes until their manufacturer, the Winston-Salem-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, agreed to allow all the workers in its supply chain to unionize. On April 9, the boycott began in earnest. Baldemar Velasquez, president of the FLOC, says protests will be held outside of convenience stores across the country in an effort to convince them to stop carrying VUSE e-cigarettes. In Durham, just over thirty protestors gathered outside of a Circle K on Highway 54 last week to join in this demand. Velasquez...

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Horrible, No Good, Very Bad NCGA Idea Has Died (for Now)

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 9:14 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Earlier this year, Republicans in the state legislature convened a committee to look at breaking up large school districts into smaller ones. While they claimed they weren’t targeting any particular district, they were responding to some suburban parents in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Wake, by far the state’s two largest districts, who argued for more local control. The biggest problem, though, is that doing...

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

New Study Finds North Carolina Women Lose an Average of Almost $8,200 to the Pay Gap Each Year

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2018 at 2:18 PM

Women in North Carolina earn 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to a study released this week by the National Partnership for Women and Children. That adds up to an individual loss of nearly $8,200 every year, enough for a woman to pay almost ten months of rent, more than a year of college tuition, or sixty-four weeks of food for her and her family. The collective deficit for all women across the state adds up to $22.4 billion each year. Across the nation, the gap is $900 billion. The National Partnership drew its analysis from...

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

GoTriangle Might Not Get All of the State Money It Wants for Light Rail, But It Should Get Enough to Keep the Project on Track

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 6:35 PM

Unless its budget changes, the maximum contribution the N.C. Department of Transportation can legally make to the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project is $183 million, which is less than the $247.6 million GoTriangle had requested, the INDY has learned. The good news for light rail proponents is that they’re likely to get all of that money. The better news is that this $63 million shortfall is significantly less than GoTriangle has accounted for in its contingency plans. According to the most recent quarterly update it gave to Durham and Orange County officials in February, “We are seeking $247 million from...

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How Smelly Is Too Smelly? What We Learned From the First Two Days of the Murphy-Brown Hog Nuisance Trial.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 9:41 AM

The showdown between an eastern North Carolina hog farm and its neighbors continued Wednesday in the second day (not including a day dedicated to jury selection) of a trial about the odors and nuisance allegedly caused by industrial hog operations. The outcome of the trial could force the world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods subsidiary Murphy-Brown LLC, to change the way it manages its hog waste—an issue that has been a point of contention for the communities surrounding Murphy-Brown-operated hog farms for decades. At its core, the trial is about pig poop. Plaintiffs suing the food giant argue that the farms'...

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Lots of N.C. Teachers Are Playing Hooky These Days

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 9:12 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Nearly 23 percent of North Carolina teachers are “chronically absent,” meaning they’ve used ten or more non-consecutive sick days, according to a new state report. This is in addition to the ten days of annual leave all teachers receive each year, a little more than one per each month school is in session—though annual leave days cannot be used when class is...

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Opening Statements Begin in the First Case Against Pork Giant Murphy-Brown

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2018 at 8:24 AM

Opening statements kicked off yesterday in the nuisance trial against Murphy-Brown LLC, the pork-producing subsidiary of the global food giant Smithfield Fields. The trial is part of twenty-six federal lawsuits filed by more than five hundred plaintiffs living near hog farms in Eastern North Carolina. The plaintiffs say that the farms' waste-management systems, which consist of storing excess hog waste in open-air pits and then liquifying and spraying the remains onto nearby fields, has created viscous smells that negatively impact their health and quality of life. The first lawsuit involves ten plaintiffs who live near Kinlaw Farm in Bladen County....

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Durham County Launches a Safe-Syringe Program and Will Offer Free Narcan Kits to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 4:21 PM

Free sterile needles and safe methods of disposal are part of a new Durham County Department of Public Health program aimed at the opioid drug epidemic. Starting today, kits containing clean syringes, containers for used needles, and printed material on relevant health services are available through the Public Health Pharmacy, located at 414 East Main Street in Durham. Durham County’s program joins twenty-six others across North Carolina, following a July 2016 law allowing nongovernment and government organizations to start safe-syringe programs that follow state guidelines. Data collected by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services shows a steady increase...

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Trump’s Trade War With China Is Heating Up. What Will It Mean for North Carolina?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 8:51 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. This was as predictable as sunrise, but it’s worth discussing anyway. Yesterday, the Chinese government announced plans to impose tariffs on 128 U.S. products, including pork and some fruits, in response to President Trump’s tariffs on some Chinese goods. As WaPo notes: “If U.S. goods become more expensive in China, Chinese buyers could opt to purchase products from Europe, South America or...

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North Carolina Regulates Acupuncturists More Than Birthing Centers. That Might Be a Problem.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 8:47 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. A couple of weeks back, I mentioned that Baby+Co., the natural birthing company that had moved into Cary in 2014, had stopped deliveries after three babies died in six years. Now, state Representative Nelson Dollar, a suburban Wake County Republican considered one of the year’s most endangered incumbents, is calling for a state investigation. From the N&O: “Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Republican...

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Durham DA Candidate Denies Copying and Pasting But Says She'll Edit Her Website After Plagiarism Accusation

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 11:27 AM

Following accusations that she plagiarized from Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who has been lauded by criminal justice reformers, a candidate for district attorney in Durham County says she'll amend her campaign website. In an interview, Satana Deberry says she wrote the language herself but admits that she did "borrow heavily" from Krasner. She says she’s been "up front" that she looks to Krasner, as well as the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, as a model for how progressive prosecutors can reform the system. "I give all credit to Krasner for being who I follow on this stuff," she told the...

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

In Which Dallas Woodhouse Brags About How Terrible He Is to Troll the Libs

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2018 at 3:02 PM

The progressive group Progress NC Action has put out this March Madness-style bracket seeking votes to determine who is the worst politician in North Carolina. As might be expected, just about all of the original entrants—all but two (Senator Joel Ford and Representative Duane Hall), to be exact—were Republicans. Yesterday saw voting in the “Foul Four” (see the bracket below). Today, voting is taking place for the finals: And Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, really, really wants to be declared Worst Politician in North Carolina, judging by his Twitter feed. ...

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