Excerpts from Duke Energy's Quarterly Earning Call

Rumors of their struggling are greatly exaggerated:

In June, we completed our $1.5 billion accelerated stock repurchase ahead of schedule. Further, last month we announced that the Board of Directors increased the quarterly dividend to $0.825 per share, doubling the annual growth rate to around 4 percent. This increase reflects our confidence in the strength of our core business and our cash flows.

Our balance sheet provides continued support for growth in the dividend. For the past 89 years, the dividend has demonstrated our commitment to delivering attractive total returns to shareholders.

Unless I'm mistaken, that stock repurchase was not financed or leveraged, it was the expenditure of liquid assets. Why is that important? Because with a corporation as large as Duke is, spending those big piles of cash is just as important as bringing them in. And when Duke isn't buying up their own stock to artificially enhance its value, they're buying up generation facilities of other companies, to increase their holdings:

McCrory's dodging makes him a "back-door" Governor


Avoiding all those pesky questions about the risks of offshore drilling:

Approximately 70 opponents of offshore drilling gathered in Manteo on Aug. 28 for what was billed as a “peaceful demonstration” aimed at Governor Pat McCrory, a strong supporter of offshore energy exploration who was holding a fundraiser in the Dare Arts Council building.

McCrory entered and exited the Arts Council headquarters through a rear entrance, without acknowledging the presence of the protestors. Kill Devil Hills Mayor Sheila Davies, who attended the fundraiser and later joined the anti-drilling protest, said she thought the governor was aware of the demonstration.

He was definitely aware. Hopefully the protesters stuck around long enough to get a look at the donors who attended. They're just as responsible (if not more) than McCrory is, by writing checks to keep him in office.

Wednesday News: The never-ending Session edition


Ticking an item off the session's bucket list (WRAL-TV) -- Budget writers may not be close to a deal yet, but House lawamkers are getting ready to finish work on a bill that would set the date for next year's presidential primary.

Five 'must dos' on legislature's agenda (WRAL-TV) -- North Carolina's $21.74 billion budget isn't the only outstanding piece of business lawmakers have to complete before they leave town. Bills dealing with next year's presidential election, charter schools and economic development are still on the table.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The Puppetshow's attack on renewable energy leaves no stone unthrown:

Of course, seismic testing and offshore drilling won't disrupt Navy operations at all, right? I'm surprised these idiots can walk around their office without slipping in the oil that's financing their propaganda machine.

Tuesday News: Vouchers at work edition


Freedom Christian Academy co-founder charged with violating sex offender registry law (WRAL-TV) -- The head of a Fayetteville private school under fire for an academic scandal and having a convicted sex offender perform work on campus was arrested Monday.

BlueCross BlueShield begins new discrimination against cancer and HIV patients

It’s called adverse tiering. It’s been reported on in outlets from the New England Journal of Medicine to the New York Times.

It’s the new way health insurance companies are trying to discriminate against "costly" patients and push those patients off their plans.

And it has arrived with a vengance in North Carolina.

The hogwashing of science by NC State

The NC Pork Council's personal University:

The study, conducted by Stephen Harden of the U.S. Geological Survey, found higher levels of ammonia and nitrates in streams near concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. The study was commissioned by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission in response to a petition filed in 2007 by several environmental groups.

The Pork Council’s consulting firm hired Bill Showers, an N.C. State professor and director of the RiverNet program, which studies nitrogen in the state’s waters. His report, released before the USGS report, is critical of some of Harden’s methods and analysis.

It's not out-of-place for industry and higher education to collaborate; some of the greatest breakthroughs in science have occurred this way. But NC State's relationship with Big Ag in general and the swine industry in particular has evolved into something much less admirable: A loyal source for "opposing opinions" whenever the industry gets in trouble with environmental regulators. And this isn't the first time this year that professor Showers has engaged in public relations for the Pork Council:

Monday News: From Selma to DC edition

NAACP 'Journey for Justice' marches through N.C. (WRAL-TV) - -The "Journey for Justice," an NAACP march that began in Selma, Ala. and will conclude in Washington D.C., arrived in North Carolina this weekend.

NAACP’s ‘Journey for Justice’ marches into N.C. (Raleigh News & Observer) -- NAACP march going from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C.

The (mis)managed care of county jail inmates

A horrifying glimpse of what the NC GOP's Medicaid privatization might look like:

Earlier this year, a former inmate sued the county on claims that his medication wasn’t administered while he was incarcerated here or in a state prison, resulting in the amputation of his leg. On New Year’s Day, a man died of an apparent suicide within an hour of being booked into the jail.

ALAMANCE COUNTY contracts with Southern Health Partners Inc., of Chattanooga, Tenn., to provide medical and dental services to inmates. That company contracts nurses and physicians to work at the jail. A nurse is on duty at all times, Jones said.

After reading this story in my local paper, I decided to do some checking to see if our experiences with Southern Health Partners was unique. It wasn't. There have been numerous lawsuits filed by inmates (or their surviving family members) ranging from inadequate care to treatment that could be right out of the pages of a Dickens novel:


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