Archive for Local

I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.

Sting

As other states across the country, North Carolina is looking at ways to implement legislation that would allow drone use in the state. The FAA is still attempting to define how they might safely share the skies with other aircraft. Equipped with a GoPro camera, small drones seem like nifty tools for photographers and hobbyists. But given the growing surveillance state revealed by Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, it is natural that civil liberties groups – and even the T-party – are wary of their use by the government against civilians. It didn’t help that one of the sites chosen for early testing in the state belongs to the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.

This morning, the Winston-Salem Journal begins a 3-part series on how drones have been promoted in North Carolina, and by whom.

Imagine: You’re having an open-invitation BBQ in your own backyard. Friends can bring friends. Anyone can come. Thanks to newly enacted legislation, local and state law enforcement agencies are allowed to show up, too, without a warrant, to spy on you with drones.

It seems an unlikely scenario. Yet, a staff attorney at the state General Assembly’s Research Division, confirmed that it could happen. At a BBQ, “a Moral Monday planning session at a friend’s house” or “a conservative Tea Party gathering.”

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Oct
06

Are You Doing Enough?

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Nicole Sandler at Radioornot posts this guest piece by the amazing Billy Wimsatt:

Guest post by Billy Wimsatt who joins me on the show this morning at 10:30ET. Listen live or come back later for the podcast.

I’m freaking out about the Senate. I woke up this morning and thought:

WE HAVE TO DO MORE!!!

I’m freaking out BOTH because Mitch McConnell controlling the Senate is terrifying AND because I believe we can stop it.

Looking at the FiveThirtyEight Senate Forecast, there are at least three races likely to be decided by somewhere between 1 vote and 17,000 votes.

senate chart

Iowa has been a 1 point race consistently since June (the Republican is ahead). That translates to roughly 11,000 votes we need to make up (out of approximately 1.1 million likely to be cast).

Colorado has become a 1 point race in the last month with the Republican ahead. This translates to roughly 17,000 votes we need to make up (out of 1.7 million votes cast).

Alaska has widened to a 3 point race with the Republican leading. But this translates to only 7,500 votes (of 250,000 total cast).

If we win 2 of these 3 races, plus Kansas, North Carolina, and New Hampshire (where the Dem-leaning candidates are ahead by 3-4 points), we can save the freaking Senate.

Yesterday, I freaked out and authorized VOTE MOB to hire 20-25 organizers in Kansas (where we currently have 8 paid organizers). This morning, I woke up and thought: Let’s do the same in Iowa (where we currently have 3). I’m talking with partners in Alaska and Colorado about what else we can do to help.

Mind you, VOTE MOB doesn’t have money to do this (we still need to raise at least another $80k). But I’m willing to break the bank and take money away from other states and projects if necessary. So any support people can send to VOTE MOB or other groups is appreciated (see this 2014 Hot List for ideas of key state and local groups).

But I believe there’s even more we must do. To turn out more voters, we need a lot more people talking to a lot more people – especially on and around campuses and in communities of color. If turnout in 2014 is similar to 2010, more than 300,000 Iowa Democrats who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 will not show up at the polls.

All we need to do is GOTV 1 in 30 of these progressive drop off-voters (who are disproportionately folks under 30 and people of color) and we can swing the Senate race in Iowa

Getting out another 7,500 or 17,000 progressive voters in these states is totally do-able. We just have to remind folks what day the election is, help them find their polling place – easy stuff. In Iowa, there is currently in-person Early Voting. So you can literally grab people off the street or out of dorms in Iowa City and drag them to register and vote in 15 minutes. It’s SO easy.

I’m serious. Everyone in DC needs to take a leave from work, get on a damn plane and go to Iowa or Colorado or another swing state -or do SOMETHING. We’re not going to do anything done but play defense on every issue for the next two years if Republicans control the Senate. Climate people – if Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader, he is literally planning to get rid of the EPA. And as we know, he will shut-down the government to do it. Ditto for every issue folks are working on.

What else can we do? What else are you willing to do?  I will raise money to fly people to Iowa if I can. I will help find folks good volunteer placements and places to stay. (Yes, there are lots of other important states that will help determine control of the Senate and Governors and other races which are arguably just as important). So go to Florida or Michigan or Illinois or Wisconsin or North Carolina or Georgia – or wherever you want to go!

But seriously… we need to prioritize this election. We have to learn the lesson from 2010 – and for that matter, from 2000. Stopping a GOP Senate take-over affects every issue and every person each of us cares about. We cannot sit this out.

We have to start treating mid-term elections like Presidential elections. Or else we’re gonna have 2010 all over again – which is totally preventable. It is not too late to change the outcome. I would challenge anyone to come up with something more important to do over the next 4 weeks.

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Sep
16

Astro-fracking North Carolina

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Courtesy of its GOP-led legislature, the great state of North Carolina is exploring fracking Triassic Basin shale deposits in the center of the state. Gov. Pat McCrory this summer lifted the moratorium on the practice in place since 2012. The bill he signed also made revealing the chemical components of fracking fluids a misdemeanor (an earlier draft made it a felony). A friend already has a T-shirt listing fracking chemicals on the back. The front reads, “This T-shirt is illegal in North Carolina.”

The Mining and Energy Commission is taking public comment on fracking in the state, naturally. Last week, they held their last public meeting in the mountains at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. About 550 people attended. Opponents, mostly, and a few astroturf fracking supporters.

Few pro-fracking supporters made themselves visible. People favoring the drilling technology were booed and hissed at during previous fracking hearings. There were some, however. Three or four from America’s Energy Forum and N.C. Energy Forum, groups that receive financial support from American Petroleum Institute. And there was Winston-Salem resident Christian Bradshaw, who said he made the three-hour trip to support “energy-creating jobs” for North Carolina.

According to news reports (and friends who were there), about 18 men arrived wearing “Shale Yes” T-shirts, but seemed unaware of what fracking is. At least one had come from a Winston-Salem homeless shelter because “he had been told it would help the environment.” As a friend described it, once the Army veteran realized he’d been duped, he couldn’t believe he’d sold out for a sandwich.


“The energy industry keeps claiming that there is support for fracking in WNC. What they fail to mention is that they have to bus the clueless ‘supporters’ in,” said Betsy Ashby, who helped organize Jackson County Coalition Against Fracking.

One of the men apologized to Ashby, saying “I didn’t know they were trying to do this to me.” Another indicated he had just done it for the money.

“They’re being exploited seven ways to Sunday,” Ashby told reporters.

Whether the issue is women’s health, school funding, Medicaid expansion, or preserving voting rights and the environment — the Moral Monday Movement’s fusion agenda — that’s pretty much how it goes. Among the tens of thousands of Moral Monday protesters, a thousand were willing to be arrested to oppose the NCGOP’s radical agenda. The Koch brothers, Art Pope, and the rest of the Midas cult have to buy support. Boy howdy, can they afford to. And even then, they are exploiting people.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo. h/t Ashevegas)

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Sep
05

Moffitt On Moffitt — On Tape

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Moffitt cribbed it:

ASHEVILLE – A company owned by state Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, lifted passages without attribution from other sources and used them in material for use on other legislators’ websites, a liberal Raleigh political group has found.

Progress North Carolina, the AC-T reports, says it found dozens of instances where anything from “a sentence or two” to “long paragraphs” were lifted without attribution. The irony here is what Moffitt told Barry Summers last Friday at last week’s CIBO meeting about his main focus areas in working with ALEC (on tape):

[P]robably my most pressing issue is intellectual property violations by foreign companies that really hurt North Carolina from the pharmaceutical/biotech standpoint.”

That’s right, nobody can violate the intellectual property rights of good, old Americans companies (like GSK, Bayer, or Novartis) except good, old Americans.

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Aug
31

Anything Asheville Can Learn Here?

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Chattanooga is a reminder that the best solutions are often local…

A lot of commonalities here with Asheville:

Loveman’s department store on Market Street in Chattanooga closed its doors in 1993 after almost a century in business, another victim of a nationwide decline in downtowns that hollowed out so many US towns. Now the opulent building is buzzing again, this time with tech entrepreneurs taking advantage of the fastest internet in the western hemisphere.

[...]

In large part the success is being driven by The Gig. Thanks to an ambitious roll-out by the city’s municipally owned electricity company, EPB, Chattanooga is one of the only places on Earth with internet at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average.

The tech buildup comes after more than a decade of reconstruction in Chattanooga that has regenerated the city with a world-class aquarium, 12 miles of river walks along the Tennessee River, an arts district built around the Hunter Museum of American Arts, high-end restaurants and outdoor activities.

What was it the Cowardly Lion asked?

Categories : Economy, Local
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Aug
29

Friday Open Thread

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Are we not men? WE ARE CIBO!

Let’s see? Who’s on tap this morning at CIBO?

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Aug
25

About Those Toll Lanes

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About Thom’s Tholl Road I wrote about yesterday,

Tillis expects to fund highway projects all across North Carolina using tolls. WSOC-Charlotte reported this summer that a round trip from Mooresville to Charlotte on Tillis’ I-77 HOT lanes could cost commuters $20 every weekday.

People in the Charlotte area — especially those struggling with low-paying jobs — are asking about the cost to use Spain-based Cintra’s toll lanes.

“Who knows?”

That’s how the man in charge of proposed Interstate 77 toll lanes responded to a town commissioner’s question about whether tolls could max out in another 20 years at more than $40 round trip.

[...]

“There is no one I have spoken to that believes an eleven dollar trip is reasonable in any way,” said Cornelius Town Commissioner John Bradford. “These numbers have really set off a lot of alarms and bells.”

Asheville has an interstate highway expansion project in the works, too. What would you be willing to pay? What would state Reps. Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey consider reasonable for you to pay?

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County parking deck on Saturday charging Special Event Rate of $5

A word or two about fairness and common sense. Maybe more than two.

There’s been a stink this week about an Asheville city councilman using his parking pass to unjam a traffic jam in a county parking deck caused, he said, by a malfunctioning exit gate.

WLOS-TV asked drivers what they thought about the councilman waving through others without paying. One said, “Wow, that doesn’t seem fair.”

We have some strange ideas about what’s fair. (View image before continuing.)

Suppose she parked in the lot on Friday and paid the $8 day rate then parked in the lot on Saturday and paid the $5 flat rate. Was her Friday self treated unfairly because she paid more than her Saturday self? Or did her Saturday self cheat her Friday self by paying less? If her Friday self parked for an hour and paid $1 and her Saturday self parked for an hour and paid $5, who was treated unfairly? And when the county opens decks and allows anyone to park for free?

Don’t even go there.

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Categories : Buncombe County, Local
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Jul
23

Water Is A Human Right

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Don’t mess with Maureen Taylor.

Scroll to 1:08:40. “This monstrous thing that’s going on in Detroit … beyond demonic … You gotta leave here changed! … Water is a human right.”

Seems we got their attention:

Detroit suspended its aggressive policy of cutting off water to customers with unpaid bills on Monday, the latest response to a controversy that has prompted large protests and caught the attention of the judge overseeing the city’s bankruptcy.

The city said there will be no shutoffs for the next 15 days. The disclosure was made in bankruptcy court where Judge Steven Rhodes is overseeing the nation’s largest ever municipal bankruptcy. He has been encouraging Detroit to come up with alternatives to shutting off water for thousands of homes and businesses.

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Jul
11

Friday Open Thread

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Judge strikes down GOP-drawn Florida congressional lines

Breitbart on border security – NOT.

What else is news?

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