Thursday News: Budgeting the right way

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IN FIRST BUDGET, COOPER PUSHES FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION (N.C. Health News) -- In rolling out his first budget, Gov. Roy Cooper said he will be able to increase North Carolina’s spending for the coming fiscal year by $1.1 billion. Cooper’s $23.48 billion dollar spending plan for 2017-18 emphasizes increasing teacher pay, increasing salaries for state employees across the board and builds on former Gov. McCrory’s infrastructure improvements to upgrade more state properties. “I have talked to hospital CEOs. I think they are willing and ready and able to step up in exchange for this expansion,” he said. “It’s gonna be a net gain for them. They’re getting hundreds of millions of dollars in this expansion.”
http://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2017/03/02/first-budget-cooper-pushes-medicaid-expansion/

Thanks to Trump, we're back to dumping coal waste into streams

MB at Dailykos has the roundup of idiotic Trumpiness:

The regulation he boasted about stopping is the Stream Protection Rule drawn up by the Office of Surface Mining. He signed a bill on Feb. 16 eliminating it, noting that getting rid of this rule that was approved in December would save thousands of mining jobs. The rule was meant to keep coal-mining waste out of streams, but it was considerably watered down thanks to industry lobbying. The rule did not ban mountain top removal that is used to get at coal seams, with the overburden of soil and rock dumped in stream valleys.

Even though the rule was far weaker than it needed to be, now instead of making companies stop dumping their coal waste in those valleys, the consequences will continue to fall as it has for more than a century on the people who live where the companies befoul the water and land with their leavings.

Something a lot of folks fail to comprehend when this subject comes up: Mountain streams make up the headwaters of rivers that run for hundreds of miles, through countless small towns and even larger cities, and these rivers cross state lines on their way to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico here on the Eastern half of the US. As far as surface pollution goes, nothing else competes with the sheer distance and volume of water polluted. And thanks to proposed budget cuts to the EPA, tracking that pollution is now going to be much more difficult:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Selenium levels in Kentucky fish off the scales

Give a man a fish, poison him just a little:

Despite decades of pollution from the Brown plant, the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife lists Herrington Lake as a great place to catch largemouth bass, crappie, white bass and bluegill. Like every other water body in the state, fish in Herrington Lake are already under an advisory for mercury because of air pollution from coal-fired power plants. But now, state regulators say the power plant’s coal ash pond has poisoned Herrington Lake’s fish in a different way: with selenium.

Nine out of 10 fish tissue samples taken last spring in Herrington Lake exceeded Kentucky’s fish tissue selenium criteria. LG&E and KU were cited for the violation last month and quickly reached an agreement with the state to pay $25,000 in civil penalties and take corrective measures.

Teach a man to fish, and you may be guilty of criminal negligence. Seriously, I just can't understand why fishermen and other outdoor sports enthusiasts aren't beating down the doors of their county/state/national governments to crack down on such pollution. I mean, just the fact you're not supposed to *eat* the fish is bad enough, but the systematic killing-off of fish populations makes the sport of fishing seem about as ridiculous as snipe-hunting:

Wednesday News: The roots of the problem

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HB2 REPEAL WILL COME ONLY WHEN BERGER AND MOORE CLEAR THE WAY (Capitol Broadcasting Co. editorial) -- Thanks to extreme gerrymandering, the General Assembly has become an ideological echo chamber where voices of reason are drowned out by shouts of extremism. It is a place where absurd comments from House Speaker Tim Moore and state Senate boss Phil Berger, complaining it’s always the opponents and victims of HB2 who are preventing its repeal, are inexplicably viewed as reasonable. The bill includes a ridiculously low threshold – 10 percent of voters in the previous municipal election -- to get a repeal on the ballot. That would be a mere 4,200 signatures in Raleigh – a city with a 438,000 population. Such a counter-productive process only breeds more divisiveness and trouble. There will be a referendum in every city.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-hb2-repeal-will-come-only-when-berger-and-moore-clear-the-way/16557836/

Asheville City Council next target of GOP meddling

If you can't be popular, be a bully:

Republican Sen. Chuck Edwards, who represents a small part of South Asheville, sent an email to Mayor Esther Manheimer Tuesday afternoon saying he was "confident that this measure" to require districts in council elections would pass the General Assembly in Raleigh, unlike one attempted by his powerful predecessor.

Apodaca, who was chairman of the powerful rules committee, said he wanted to change the fact that no council member had been elected for more than a decade from South Asheville, which has the highest number of Republicans in the city. Tuesday, Edwards said his "actions are the result of trends taking place in municipalities as well as a great deal of feedback from citizens of Buncombe County."

Asheville needs to fight this the way Greensboro did, if it comes down to it. And I wouldn't trust Republicans in the General Assembly to respect any District maps developed by the City, because they are constitutionally incapable of keeping their grubby fingers from redrawing maps, and double-bunking is bound to occur. Which, in case you're not paying attention, is one way the Legislature undermines the will of the people, by making them choose which one of their 2-3 favorites gets to remain in office.

Tuesday News

CONSTIUTIONAL RIGHT TO FACEBOOK, TWITTER? SUPREME COURT WEIGHS IN (New York Times) -- A Supreme Court argument on Monday about whether North Carolina may bar registered sex offenders from using Facebook, Twitter and similar services turned into a discussion of how thoroughly social media have transformed American civic discourse. The justices’ remarks, which indicated easy familiarity with the major social media services, suggested that they would strike down the North Carolina law under the First Amendment.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/supreme-court-north-carolina-sex-offenders-social-med...

Tuesday Twitter roundup

I give you the new House Minority Leader, Darren Jackson:

Because it's not about what we need, it's about Republicans' continuous bullying tactics.

The darkest side of religion: Word of Faith "Fellowship"

This nightmare needs to be closed down, and quickly:

Congregants of the Word of Faith Fellowship were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to "purify" sinners by beating out devils, 43 former members told The Associated Press in separate, exclusive interviews.

Victims of the violence included pre-teens and toddlers — even crying babies, who were vigorously shaken, screamed at and sometimes smacked to banish demons. "I saw so many people beaten over the years. Little kids punched in the face, called Satanists," said Katherine Fetachu, 27, who spent nearly 17 years in the church.

When stories like this emerge you can't help but ask questions like, "Why would people stay in such an environment?" and especially, "How could you allow your children to suffer this way?" But the truth is not so simple. Religion can be twisted in such a way that you get caught between Hell and the high water of abuse, and sociopaths like the lady who runs this cult know just how to trap people there. That's why the rest of us (through our government) need to be willing to poke our noses in and save these families, even if they don't necessarily want to be saved. No doubt Social Services and other local authorities were (and are) well aware of what's been going on there, but they've let it continue, probably for fear of legal ramifications:

Monday News: HB2 Repeal saga continues

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COOPER: 'I'M READY TO COMPROMISE TO ERASE' HB2 (WRAL-TV) -- Gov. Roy Cooper called on Republican legislators Sunday to drop a provision in a proposed HB2 repeal compromise that would allow for a referendum vote on local nondiscrimination ordinances. Cooper issued a news release and posted a video Sunday afternoon calling on House Speaker Tim Moore to “return to the negotiating table.” Cooper, a Democrat, took issue with the provision that would allow opponents of nondiscrimination ordinances to collect signatures to put the ordinances up for a vote in a referendum election. "It subjects the rights of the minority to a vote of the majority. It would be like putting the Civil Rights Act to a popular vote in cities in the South during the 1960s. Except today, it would come with the perils of modern campaigns," Cooper said in the Medium post.
http://www.wral.com/cooper-i-m-ready-to-compromise-to-erase-hb2/16553249/

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