Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NC SHOULD END LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE FOR JUVENILES: It is time for our state to replace juvenile life without parole with a more sensible scheme, adopted by states from California to Wyoming, in which lengthy sentences are automatically reviewed at set time periods and juveniles are given the chance to demonstrate rehabilitation. Why make this change now? For one, overly harsh sentences for juveniles are a holdover from the 1990s, when the “superpredator” theory that predicted a surge in violent crime caused a nationwide panic. Here in North Carolina, judges sentenced 94 juveniles between ages 13 and 17 to life without parole, most of them in the 1990s. The superpredator theory has long been discredited -- the surge never materialized and juvenile crime actually decreased. And few of these sentences are handed down anymore: since 2011, juvenile life without parole has only been imposed five times in the state.
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article226343695.html

Saturday News: Fraud, by any other name

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DOWLESS CREW HANDLED 1 IN 5 ABSENTEE BALLOTS: One out of every five absentee ballots counted in Bladen County in 2018 were handled by people linked to the Republican political operative at the center of an investigation that has stalled the results of a North Carolina congressional election. That’s according to an analysis by WRAL News, which this month closely examined more than 1,500 signed envelopes from accepted absentee ballots made public by the State Board of Elections in its probe of voting irregularities in the 9th Congressional District. The agency’s investigation has largely focused over the last few months on two southeastern North Carolina counties – Bladen and Robeson – both the subject of scrutiny in previous elections.
https://www.wral.com/9th-district-dowless-crew-handled-1-in-5-absentee-votes-in-bladen-county/18193986/

Washington County Hospital joins ranks of NC's failing rural health care system

Another victim of privatization:

Washington County Hospital CEO Melanie Perry tells WCTI in New Bern that the facility's owner has plans to resolve several problems, including dwindling medical supplies and workers not getting paid for two weeks. Empower HMS promised 50 employees that checks would arrive Monday, but staff members said they never came. There has been no word on when or if the medical supplies will be replenished.

Perry said closing the county's only hospital would be devastating to the town of Plymouth, approximately 125 miles east of Raleigh.

Before we dig deeper into this unfortunate situation, a few words on how this could have been avoided are in order. When a public (municipal) entity provides a service, whether it's health care, transportation, water & sewer, or any other critical infrastructure issue, all considerations about turning a profit (net revenue gain, if you will) or even "breaking even" should be disregarded. Providing services to citizens is what government is for, and that's why we pay taxes. And this goes double in rural areas, where the economy simply cannot support/sustain a perpetually profitable business. Had local elected officials understood that back in 2007, they might not have sold this hospital in the first place. Because once a facility like this enters the private sector, the sharks start circling:

Friday News: Too little, too slow

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GOVERNOR COOPER JOINS ENVIRONMENTALISTS IN CRITICIZING EPA GENX PLAN: Environmental groups roundly criticized a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan on toxic chemicals like GenX on Thursday, saying it doesn't go nearly far or fast enough to address threats to health and water. Gov. Roy Cooper complained about the plan as well, saying the U.S. government's ballyhooed action plan lacked important detail and a commitment to setting standards on chemicals made in North Carolina and found in drinking water along the Cape Fear River. The EPA's plan, Cooper said in a statement, "seems to ignore the urgency of the problem." Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Southern Environmental Law Center and Food & Water Watch, agreed. The Environmental Working Group said the plan would allow more pollution, not less, and called President Donald Trump "the nation's first pro-cancer president."
https://www.wral.com/environmentalists-cooper-pan-new-epa-plan-on-genx-style-chemicals/18192610/

Teach For America's true colors show during strike

Just another cog in the school privatization machine:

The tensions came to a head this week when hundreds of Teach for America alumni criticized the educator placement program for suggesting corps members who strike in Oakland would lose thousands of dollars promised to them at the end of their two-year service commitment.

Teach for America said there was a misunderstanding on the guidance it provided about the strike that could start next week. It said it gave the same message to other members facing recent strikes, including in Los Angeles.

I have a very good friend who took the TFA route several years ago, after receiving her Bachelor's in Communication. Don't know all the details, but she is no longer teaching. Two years in an inner-city school burned her out like a short candle. Their five week "boot camp" doesn't even come close to preparing TFA members for that particular high-stress job, but it looks like that is not their goal anyway. Creating a teacher pool for charter schools has become their main function:

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