Daily dose: Keystone Veto edition

Obama’s Expected Keystone Veto Likely to Be First in Wave (New York Times) -- Wielding the weapon of his pen, President Obama this week is expected to formally reject a Republican attempt to force construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But in stopping the transit of petroleum from the forests of Alberta to the Gulf Coast, Mr. Obama will be opening the veto era of his presidency. The expected Keystone veto, the third and most significant of Mr. Obama’s six years in office, would most likely be followed by presidential vetoes of bills that could emerge to make changes in the Affordable Care Act, impose new sanctions on Iran and roll back child nutrition standards, among others. Rep. David E. Price, a North Carolina Democrat, said Mr. Obama had little choice: “I don’t think, in this divided government, there’s much doubt he will have to use it.”

Race and gender bias in the professional sphere

Systemic, persistent, and directly related to income disparity:

But researchers at North Carolina State conducted an experiment in which they asked students to rate teachers of an online course (the students never saw the teachers). To some of the students, a male teacher claimed to be female and vice versa.

When students were taking the class from someone they believed to be male, they rated the teacher more highly. The very same teacher, when believed to be female, was rated significantly lower. Something similar happens with race.

This sounds more like a study conducted in the 1960's than one done in this century. And the sad thing is, even knowing their assumptions about the teachers were wildly inaccurate, those same students would likely make the same prejudicial mistakes years later, when they are hiring staff for whatever organization mistakenly chose them for a management position. Like these employers:

Daily dose: Main Street craziness edition

Main Street Democrats group wants to restore voters’ confidence (Fayetteville Observer) -- Twelve Democrats in the General Assembly say they're different from their colleagues who raised taxes during the Great Recession, an action that helped propel the Republicans to power in the 2010 elections. In January, they formed the NC Main Street Democrat Caucus. It's an effort to save a fading species in the political jungle: the moderate N.C. Democrat. That's who ran the state for much of the 20th century before the many Democrats followed their party to the left and the Republicans shifted right.

When neutering history serves no purpose

I tend not to get my feathers ruffled over inconsequential things, until I do. So let’s start with Aycock Residence Hall at East Carolina University. Decades ago, I ventured east to Greenville. Fresh out of high school, I took the path of my parents’ wishes. While neither had gone any further than high school, they both wanted more for me. We didn’t call them residence halls back then. They were Jones, Aycock and Belk, among others. Even getting there was a form of oppression. 64 East didn’t exist as a four lane between Raleigh and Greenville.

For Duke Energy, everything is negotiable

Even their "punishment" for crimes committed:

Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric utility, accusing the company of violating the federal Clean Water Act by illegally dumping millions of gallons of toxic coal ash into the Dan River in North Carolina. They also accused the company of failing to maintain equipment around at least two plants.

Duke said Friday that it had already negotiated a plea agreement under which it expected to pay fines.

And in true cart-before-the-horse fashion, the fines just happen to be slightly larger than the dollar figure Duke decided it was prepared to pay...when? A few months ago? If this investigation and the charges that resulted are supposed to make us feel better about how justice is rendered in this country, it's a big, fat failure.

Daily dose: Another auto plant to woo and lose

Jaguar Land Rover reportedly eying U.S. plant; N.C. wants in (Triad Business Journal) -- Add this name to the list of automobile manufacturers that might be considering North Carolina for a new manufacturing plant: Jaguar Land Rover. In fact, you might want to move it toward the top. The British car company, based near Coventry but actually owned by India's Tata Motors, is in a big-time growth mode. It has recently opened plants in Brazil and China and reportedly is actively looking for a site in the southern United States. Throw in this tidbit for what it's worth: Gov. Pat McCrory's first overseas trade mission, in January, was to England.

State & local taxes: Who pays the most?

Allowing the rich to pay less taxes does not result in job growth. Business do not hire new workers unless they absolutely have to do so, and what creates that need is a demand for their services or products. The kind of demand that comes from a vibrant middle class with money in its pockets to spend. NCGA needs to re-address its 'tax reform' and come up with better ideas.

Astroturfing NC's offshore drilling debate

The American Petroleum Institute's puppets proxies invade Wrightsville Beach forum:

About 160 people showed up at the Coastline Conference and Events Center, the former train station, to grab a free sandwich at what was billed as an Offshore Energy Luncheon. The N.C. Energy Forum provided the eats. If you never heard of it, you’re forgiven. It is one of 27 state groups that are part of a larger effort known as America’s Energy Forum, which notes on its website that it is comprised of “concerned citizens committed to two goals – achieving energy security for our country and holding our elected officials more accountable in shaping energy policies.”

Some have disparaged the forum as a fake grassroots group. The Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch calls it an “astroturf” project of the American Petroleum Institute, or API, the largest trade group of oil and gas producers in the country. API admits to it, though you have to search pretty hard to find it. There it is, though, at the bottom of the forum website in tiny type: “Sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute.” David McGowan III, the executive director of the N.C. Petroleum Council – an API group – later confirmed the affiliation in an email.

Unfortunately, a certain portion of our population have always been prone to believe unscrupulous salesmen and the "magic elixirs" they peddle, and the fossil fuel industry has become a master at creating organizations like Americans For Prosperity and other groups who use naïve people to help them increase their profit margins. It's all about the dogma, usually with a flag flapping in the background:

Daily dose: VP comes to town version

Biden in NC: America must rebuild its infrastructure (AP) — In a visit to Charlotte, where local leaders say prosperity is linked to infrastructure investments, Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday reiterated the administration's call to invest billions in highways, bridges and passenger rail service to promote long-term economic growth.


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