Archive for North Carolina

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?

Aug
16

Tom Cruise in a jetpack

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(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

IMDB describes Minority Report thusly:

In the year 2054 A.D. crime is virtually eliminated from Washington D.C. thanks to an elite law enforcing squad “Precrime”. They use three gifted humans (called “Pre-Cogs”) with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes beforehand.

Meanwhile, here in the past an elite research team at N.C. State University is at work on a top secret project, Future States Processing (announced a year ago yesterday):

RALEIGH — As the field of “big data” continues to grow in importance, N.C. State University has landed a big coup – a major lab for the study of data analysis, funded by the National Security Agency.

This is from the project’s Executive Summary [emphasis mine]:

Broadly, Future States Processing (FSP) is “a mechanism that conceives of the state of an entity (e.g., person, place, or thing) at some point in the future based on a current collection of information.” One challenge is to decompose the broad aim of FSP into a set of key research areas. The group has identified five areas: narrative processing (addressed in another research theme), which allows the identification of emerging topics and narratives from structured and unstructured data; state description, which includes entity, feature, and attribute identification; state modeling, which identifies relationships and dependencies and creates a formal representation; process and prediction models, which infers subsequent states given the current description and a context; and uncertainty quantification, which addresses the precision with which the predictions can be made. Predictions must be made within a context, and an unaddressed issue is context generation. As the group identifies example problems, the preference is to focus on people as entities and to predict behavior or motivation.

Some people are paid to lose sleep over those unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know. For that, there’s “big data.” And now that No Such Agency has a place to store it(Bluffdale, UT), N.C. State just needs to develop the right set of algorithms to predict people’s future behaviors.

But there’s still the unaddressed problem of “context generation.”

Describe your most paranoid fantasy and — with the right data “corpus” — No Such Agency will tell you who’s most likely working on turning that threat into a reality.

So you can arrest or kill them.

What could go worng?

What could go worng?

Categories : National, North Carolina
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Aug
14

Drones Over Your Homes

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So in North Carolina’s capitol, one of Charlie Pierce’s Laboratories Of Democracy, Gov. Pat McCrory is rushing to fix items in the budget he signed just days ago. Like a “provision that would stop automatically paying for enrollment growth at public schools.” 

It’s just another of those items slipped anonymously into a must-pass budget bill. Among the hidden pearls is this ALEC-inspired gem found by Asheville-based activist Barry Summers. He wrote about it this week in the Asheville Citizen-Times: 

H1099 was never heard by any Senate committee, but it has become State law nonetheless. It allows warrantless drone surveillance at all public events (including those on private property) or any place which is in “plain view” of a law enforcement officer. It has other loopholes and deficiencies which taken altogether, make a mockery of the “right-to-privacy” anywhere but inside your home with the shades drawn tight.

More at Hullabaloo.

Mountain Moral Monday filled Pack Square Park yesterday, although at about 3,500 the numbers did not rival last year’s crowd size, the Citizen-Times reports:

The Rev. William Barber, at a press conference ahead of the rally, said judging the success of a movement by numbers is a mistake. He said people, at times, tried to judge the civil rights movement in the 1960s by the number of people marching and attending rallies.

“We love numbers,” he said, “but we don’t live or die by numbers.”

But yesterday’s coalition was made up of over 50 organizations, the AC-T reports. Barber said,

“It does not matter what the critics call us. You can call us a bunch of liberals; you can call us communists. But it’s not what you call us, it’s what we answer to. And we know who we are!

“We are black. We are white. We are Latino. We are Native American. We are Democrats. We are Republicans. We are independents. We are people of faith. We are people not of faith, who believe in a moral universe. We are native. We are immigrants. We are business leaders. We are workers. We are doctors. We are the uninsured. We are gay; we are straight. We are students; we are retirees.

“We stand here, a quilt of many colors. We are united in our efforts to fight for the soul of our state. We know who we are.

“We are the mountains. We are the coastlands. We are North Carolina. We are America. This is what democracy looks like!”

[Thanks to Gordon Smith for the image.]

Categories : News, North Carolina
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Aug
04

TODAY: Mountain Moral Monday 2

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snake lineRise Above The Snake Line!

MOUNTAIN MORAL MONDAY RETURNS TO WNC!

Join folks from across the region and state for another energizing and inspiring Mountain Moral Monday – “Moral March to the Polls Rally” on August 4, from 5-6:30 pm at Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville.

The Mountain People’s Assembly, a coalition of WNC organizations, and regional WNC NAACP Branches, will host the return of Mountain Moral Monday, a non-partisan program that will highlight the destructive policies enacted by the N.C. statehouse over the past year while strongly focusing on the voter empowerment campaign, “Moral March to the Polls.”

The event will feature Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the NC NAACP and other guest speakers, as well as musical entertainment. In addition, there will be opportunities for participants to get involved in voter registration, education and Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) efforts during the current mid-term election cycle. ‘Moral Freedom Summer’ Organizers and volunteers will be available to help register voters.

To sign on as a supporter or for more information, email info@mountainmoralmonday.org.

We look forward to seeing you there

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Aug
02

Monday! Monday! Monday!

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Categories : Action, North Carolina
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With the imposition of a state-appointed emergency manager for Detroit, a local activist says half the voting population of Michigan has, essentially, lost the right to vote. As we noted during our recent visit, they’re also cutting off the water to thousands of Detroit families and headed towards privatizing the water and sewer systems. Sally Kohn looks at The Republican Occupation of Detroit:

Why would any city want to privatize its water system? A report by Corporate Accountability International (CAI) shows that water privatization fairly universally leads to higher prices for cities and consumers and, in many cases, decreased efficiencies. In fact, the track record for water privatization is so abysmal that CAI found more than 20 American cities that had once privatized their water have taken back control of their systems since 2002. If water privatization is bad for the city of Detroit and its residents, who is it good for? Corporations. Which is where the state’s interest comes in.

Government governs best that’s closest to the people? Not so in Michigan. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s GOP may hate what they decry as the nanny state, but they are just fine with a paternalistic daddy state.

Under Governor Pat McCrory and the GOP-led legislature, North Carolina is headed there as well. Michigan just got there first.

Low-budget retailing is growing:

Dollar Tree, a discount retailer known for selling everything for $1, said Monday it plans to buy Matthews-based Family Dollar for $8.5 billion, weeks after an activist investor started pushing the company to sell itself.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did not think Family Dollar was profitable enough. Retail analyst Howard Davidowitz, an investment banker, told NPR’s Sonari Glinton why low-end retailing is expanding:

DAVIDOWITZ: The story is the growth of the sector and that mirrors where America is.

GLINTON: So what I’m curious about is, while the dollar stores are doing well, then there’s the Sears, the JC Penney.

DAVIDOWITZ: Are getting destroyed because they’re middle-class stores.

GLINTON: Put the dollar stores?

DAVIDOWITZ: The dollar stores are doing better because they have more and more customers who are trading down. If you look at the reality, you will see what’s happening in the economy. And it doesn’t look too pretty.

Bad economic news for America is good business for low-end retailers such as NC state budget director Art Pope, who owns Variety Retailers. He’s expanding into groceries.

Art Pope’s Variety Wholesalers has purchased the vacant Kroger store in Southeast Raleigh with plans to establish the company’s first standalone grocery in an area that badly needs one.

The company, which owns Roses, Maxway and other discount stores, bought the property on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard last week for $2.57 million – well below its assessed tax value of $5.65 million.

Pope plans to split the store into a Roses and a separate grocery store. It’s a neighborhood where over half the families earn less than $35,000 per year, according to the News and Observer.

The NAACP has picketed one of Pope’s local Maxway stores “accusing Pope of using store profits to support conservative causes and candidates.”

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Still recovering from an electrifying conference in Detroit. Wanted to post this.

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Rev. William Barber from the Forward Together movement spoke for an hour on Thursday night and wowed the Netroots Nation audience. It was many people’s first exposure to Rev. Barber, and it was all anyone could talk about on Friday morning. And least one person said it was the best speech they had ever heard live.

Barber drew energy from the crowd. He talked at one point about how, to get out of the wilderness, you don’t go down into the valley. There are snakes down there! Instead, he said, you make for the ridge tops.

From his telling, there is a climatic effect, an elevation above which snakes don’t go. Our politics, Barber said, have got to “rise above the snake line.” By the next morning, you could buy Rise above the snake line buttons in the exhibit hall with the coiled Tea Party snake below the line on the lower half.

He seemed to be enjoying himself, and was much lighter on his feet by the end of this speech even bouncing a little bit.

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