Sunday News: Bill Cook can go suck a lemon

COOK CONCERNED ABOUT DEQ NOMINEE (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- State Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, said Friday he so far doesn't have major concerns with Gov. Roy Cooper's cabinet picks – except for his pick to run the Department of Environmental Quality. Cook said Regan is the only Cooper appointment he has concerns with so far, noting the nominee’s advocacy for wind and solar power. Cook has favored legislation reducing a renewable energy mandate and other supports for the industry, siding with some Republicans who say those policies ultimately drive up energy costs.
http://www.dailyadvance.com/News/2017/01/07/Cook-concerned-about-DEQ-nominee.html

Lawyers-R-Us: Charlotte's scamming diploma mill set to reopen Jan 17

Because there's still tons of money to be made:

Charlotte School of Law – battling lawsuits from students, a federal cutoff of student loans and financial problems – told students Friday night that it would reopen for the spring semester. “We are very pleased to announce that after extensive discussions with our regulators, we will be starting classes as scheduled,” the school told students in an email.

CSL told students at mid-week that it was trying to make arrangements with Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville – a sister institution in the three-school InfiLaw chain – for students to complete their studies and receive an ABA-accredited degree.

I believe even struggling students should have a chance to succeed in life, and I'm all for taking (some) alternative routes for professional degrees. But that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about a degree that isn't worth the faux-sheepskin it's printed on, and a crippling student debt that even a real lawyer can't help you figure out. Here's some more background, if you have the stomach for it:

Saturday News: Coop leads the way

COOPER TAKES FIRST STEP TOWARD MEDICAID EXPANSION (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Gov. Roy Cooper made good Friday on his pledge to pursue federal approval for expanding the state’s Medicaid program. Cooper’s first step consisted of submitting a letter and a draft plan to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. His goal is having expansion in place by January 2018. Cooper’s plan amends the Medicaid reform waiver request submitted June 1 by the McCrory administration. That plan focuses on creating a hybrid oversight solution involving for-profit insurers and not-for-profit health-care systems with no expansion.
http://www.journalnow.com/news/elections/local/cooper-takes-first-step-toward-medicaid-expansion/art...

Friday News: 500,000 reasons to ignore them

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GOP ASKS FEDS FOR REJECTION OF COOPER'S PROPOSAL (Fayetteville Observer) -- North Carolina's legislative leaders have asked federal regulators to reject an anticipated proposal by Gov. Roy Cooper to expand Medicaid, citing state laws they say show he lacks the authority to ask on his own. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore wrote the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Thursday. Cooper announced Wednesday he'd file a request later this week seeking coverage though the federal health care overhaul.
http://www.fayobserver.com/news/north_carolina/gop-asks-feds-for-rejection-of-cooper-s-proposal-inau...

And a child will lead them

Mark Johnson has his first day at school board:

He had successes and failures, he said, but the story that sticks with him is one about a 16-year-old student he taught in his second year. By that time, Johnson had his class management skills down, he explained, so the students would file into the classroom quietly, collect their assignments and books, and start reading.

One particular student — the aforementioned 16-year-old — was more fond of skipping class and cutting up. But one day, when the student walked in and saw all the other kids behaving properly, he asked Johnson for his textbook and assignment. Johnson said he was thrilled. It was a dream moment for a teacher — getting through to a hard-to-reach student. But Johnson’s enthusiasm was smashed moments later when the student called him over after starting the assignment. “I still remember to this day,” Johnson said. “He told me, ‘Mr Johnson, I can’t read the words in this book.’”

I've mentioned this before, but I'm going to do it again: The part of this story that should stand out to everybody reading it, is the fact these kids only had access to their textbook for the 55 minutes they were in class. They should have it with them in study hall, when they go home in the afternoon, right before they go to bed, when they get up in the morning, while they're riding the bus (or car) to school, etc. But when your budget is so tight you've got five or six classes of children sharing the same books, you've got to "ration" their usage. Like a fricking basketball during P.E. That should have been the moral to Mark Johnson's story every time he told it, but it sounds like it didn't even register on him.

Thursday News: Clear your desk, Donald

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DEQ'S VAN DER VAART NEEDS TO EXIT, EVEN IF IT'S NOT GRACEFUL (Capitol Broadcasting Co. editorial) -- Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Donald van der Vaart's self-demotion demeans him and the agency he once led. If he won't go on his own, he should be fired. Van der Vaart’s relatively brief tenure at the helm of the department has been marked more by controversy and dissension than accomplishment. The coal ash disposal issue, sparked by the Dan River spill before he came into office, remains unresolved. A bitter dispute over the wording of warnings connected with potentially unsafe well water ignited into accusations of lying under oath and resignations in protest. He has sought to thwart the development of renewable energy, including solar, one of the state’s top economic growth bright spots. If Cooper’s administration leaders can figure out a way to fire van der Vaart, they need to do it. If he wants, let him sue. Send the lawyers’ bill to the General Assembly, where there seems to be no shortage of legal defense funds.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-deq-s-van-der-vaart-needs-to-exit-even-if-it-s-not-graceful/16400970/

Fascism Watch: The rise of the propagandists

We've always been at war with Eastasia:

Donald Trump ran a campaign built almost exclusively on lies and demagoguery, so it stands to reason that his presidency will usher in a new era of deceitful propaganda as well. It could very well dwarf the George W. Bush administration’s infamous propaganda push around the Iraq War.

As detailed in a recent report from Media Matters, is that Trump can rely on a pre-existing infrastructure of well-funded conspiracy theorists, like Alex Jones, James O’Keefe, and David Daleiden, who pose as “citizen journalists” and pump out a steady stream of lies and misinformation to support the Trump agenda.

The United States has had its share of demagogues over the years, but none have surpassed Trump in his ability to create a narrative out of thin air, and have millions fall for it immediately. And the Liar in Chief has learned a valuable (to him) lesson: He doesn't have to study an issue, or have advisors coach him on how to deal with it. Whatever pops into his twisted mind becomes the reality, and the only people who are delusional are those who question him. And if you're making the wrong assumption that Congress will keep him in check, consider these events:

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