Sunday News: The roar still echoes

DEFIANT VOICES FLOOD U.S. CITIES AS WOMEN RALLY FOR RIGHTS (New York Times) -- On successive days, two parallel and separate Americas were on display in virtually the same location. First there was President Donald Trump’s inauguration, his message of an ailing society he would restore to greatness aimed at the triumphant supporters who thronged Washington on Friday. Then on Saturday, in what amounted to a counterinauguration, the speakers, performers and marchers proclaimed allegiance to a profoundly different vision of the nation. They voiced determination to protect an array of rights that they believe Mr. Trump threatens, and that they thought only recently were secure.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/women-march-protest-president-trump.html

Saturday News: Women march for the future

THOUSANDS OF NORTH CAROLINIANS TO MARCH FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS (WUNC-FM) -- Thousands plan to march in North Carolina for women's rights Saturday. Events in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh will begin at 10 a.m. and coincide with the Women's March on Washington . That event, expected to draw crowds in the hundreds of thousands, was planned shortly after Donald Trump's presidential victory and takes place during his first official day in office. It has inspired similar marches in hundreds of cities around the country and world.
http://wunc.org/post/thousands-north-carolinians-march-womens-rights#stream/0

Friday News: Corrupt to the very end

mccrorynonplussed.jpg

MCCRORY ORDERED $166,000 PAYOUTS TO DEPARTING CABINET HEADS (Raleigh News & Observer) -- On his way out of office, Gov. Pat McCrory ordered accrued vacation and bonus leave payouts worth about $166,000 to his 10 Cabinet secretaries — money they would not otherwise have been entitled to receive. The top executives were exempt from state personnel regulations, and so were not eligible to receive the payouts under typical circumstances. McCrory on Dec. 29 wrote to the state controller and the interim director of the Office of State Human Resources telling them to send the payouts “as if they were regular state employees,” retroactive to their first day of employment in the exempt position.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article127532149.html

Excellent primer on Russian hacking and Trump/Putin involvement

I have to give McClatchy two blue stars for this intel brief:

The informal, inter-agency working group began to explore possible Russian interference last spring, long before the FBI received information from a former British spy hired to develop politically damaging and unverified research about Trump, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the inquiry.

Steele’s reports also alleged that Russian consulates in New York, Washington and Miami were used to deliver “tens of thousands of dollars” to Kremlin-hired operatives using fictitious names as if they were legitimate Russian-American pensioners. That “ruse” was designed to give Russia “plausible deniability,” Steele’s reports suggested. However, Russia does not operate a consulate in Miami.

The quality of Steele's intelligence-gathering efforts should be suspect, to a certain degree. When you're paid (originally by a Republican, and later by a Democrat) to find damaging information, you will find damaging information, even if it doesn't exist or is created by somebody else for you to find. But Steele isn't an amateur. He worked for 6 long enough to spot bullshit a mile away. So, there are probably some kernels of truth in his report, but verifying them will be difficult, at best. What we should be concerned about (as of tomorrow, or Monday, if Dingus does take the weekend off) is the likelihood the incoming President will quash any ongoing investigations being pursued by Executive Branch agencies. Which covers all six agencies in this working group. And it's a good bet Putin wants them to stop ASAP:

Environmental Injustice: Living in Hogland

Talk about your bad neighbors:

The EPA says the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has not done enough to reduce asthma, stench, flies, truck traffic and other problems caused by the facilities. The federal agency also says it has “grave concerns” about reports from minority neighbors of threats and intimidation against those who have complained.

“North Carolina hog farmers are good neighbors who care deeply about protecting our water and air,” Andy Curliss, chief executive officer of the Pork Council, said in a statement released Wednesday. “We welcome the opportunity to sit down with state regulators and those who live near our farms to address any concerns they may have.”

Oh, Andy. How far you've fallen. You used to investigate stories like this, and uncover the dark secrets behind the shining public façade. Now you are that façade. And you're not just covering up unethical business practices, some of this behavior is not unlike the mafia in its implied violence and brutality:

Thursday News: We're way past "I'm sorry," dude

HEADLINE, TO PHOTO, FAKE NEWS MASTERPIECE FROM DAVIDSON GRAD (New York Times) -- It was early fall, and Donald J. Trump, behind in the polls, seemed to be preparing a rationale in case a winner like him somehow managed to lose. He was hearing “more and more” about evidence of rigging, he added, leaving the details to his supporters’ imagination. A few weeks later, Cameron Harris, a new Davidson College grad with a fervent interest in Republican politics and a need for cash, sat down at the kitchen table in his apartment to fill in the details Trump had left out. In a dubious art just coming into its prime, this bogus story would be his masterpiece. “I had a theory when I sat down to write it,” recalled Mr. Harris, a 23-year-old former college quarterback and fraternity leader. “Given the severe distrust of the media among Trump supporters, anything that parroted Trump’s talking points people would click."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/us/fake-news-hillary-clinton-cameron-harris.html

Introducing the NC GOP's favorite money-man: Roger W. Knight

A little background from our friend Greg Flynn:

The Carolina Business Coalition, Inc., has been in existence since May of 2011 but publicly dormant until recently. Originally set up by Roger Knight, a campaign finance attorney with fingers in various right-wing pies, the organization switched the record of responsibility in April to Peter Barnes who filed paperwork for the Carolina Business Coalition Education Fund with both the IRS and the State Board of Elections on May 10th. Roger Knight serves as a director of the parent Carolina Business Coalition which is chaired by Allen Gant, President and CEO of Glen Raven, Inc. a major contributor to Real Jobs NC set up by Fred Eshelman, and for which Knight has served as Executive Director. In 2010, largely funded by the Republican State Leadership Committee, Real Jobs NC spent $1.6 million on state races, a big factor in the Republican takeover of the NC General Assembly.

Since the early days of the Republican takeover of NC government, dark money has poured into individual races for the General Assembly, often in the form of vague (and hugely expensive) television commercials promoting Republican candidates or attacking their Democratic opponents. For the most part, those subsequently elected (or re) officials have tried to separate themselves from that dark money. But while doing a search on the new Appropriations Committee Co-Chair (Dean Arp), I stumbled across this relatively new 501(c)4 independent expenditure org which is directly tied to the NC House GOP leadership:

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