Saturday News: Cry "Havoc"

US, UK, AND FRANCE LAUNCH MISSILE ATTACK ON OUTSKIRTS OF DAMASCUS: The United States, France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again, but also stirred up angry responses from Syria's allies and ignited a debate over whether the attacks were justified. Pentagon officials said the attacks targeted the heart of Assad's programs to develop and produce chemical weapons. Defense officials from the countries involved in the attack gave differing accounts of how much warning was given to the Russians, Syria's powerful ally. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. did not coordinate targets with or notify the Russian government of the strikes, beyond normal airspace "de-confliction" communications. But the description from an ally described things differently. But French Defense Minister Florence Parly said that "with our allies, we ensured that the Russians were warned ahead of time."
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article208899459.html

Check Out Jenny Marshall—She Could be the One to Finish Virginia Foxx!

I wish I could vote for Jenny Marshall, a teacher and potential opponent for Virgina Foxx in District 5. She seems like a refreshing and dynamic candidate who would give Foxx a real challenge and likely defeat! She is running a great grassroots campaign,door-to-door, which has already attracted national recognition and endorsements.

All for one, and one only for himself...

You may remember the term carte blanche from reading The Three Muskateers. Cardinal Richeleau issued a carte blanche to Milady de Winter. It read only, "By my word and for the good of the state, the bearer has done what has been done." This gave her unlimited power to do anything, break any law, without any consequences to herself. She was, effectively, above the law.

Of course, such a thing can, and did, backfire. When the carte blanche fell into the hands of D'Artagnion, he used it to justify Milady's execution.

Group with ties to Art Pope pushes anti-teacher propaganda

State Policy Network pens instruction manual for discrediting teacher strikes:

The new rightwing strategy to discredit the strikes that have erupted in protest against cuts in education funding and poor teacher pay is contained in a three-page document obtained by the Guardian. Titled “How to talk about teacher strikes”, it provides a “dos and don’ts” manual for how to smear the strikers.

Top of the list of talking points is the claim that “teacher strikes hurt kids and low-income families”. It advises anti-union campaigners to argue that “it’s unfortunate that teachers are protesting low wages by punishing other low-wage parents and their children.”

I have to give credit upfront to the NCAE and all of our teachers who have washed over the NC Capitol grounds with a sea of red for several years now. It would not surprise me if Civitas was a driving force behind this propaganda manual, because they've been trying to attack the Moral Mondays movement with whatever tools they can, up to and including publishing the names and photos of those who dared to challenge Republican leadership. And it also comes as no surprise that money (tax cuts for the wealthy) is at the core of this devious attack on teachers:

Friday News: Cultural decline?

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DAN FOREST "RETREATS" TO THE MOUNTAINS FOR ALL-MALE CHRISTIAN BONDING: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and dozens of other Christian men spent last weekend in the North Carolina mountains at an invitation-only retreat organized by Forest and his supporters. They slept 10 to a room "like a summer camp," according to Forest's chief of staff and campaign manager Hal Weatherman. “There’s no political conversation," Forest told host Pete Kaliner. "There’s nothing political at all.” The event has a website, but the site makes clear participation is invitation only. Weatherman said volunteers recruit attendees from around the state to create "a strong geographic reach." “Many of you share my concerns about the cultural decline of our country, our state and our communities," Forest, a social conservative widely expected to run for governor in 2020, says on the website. "To combat this decline, I’m continuing to hold the annual Black Mountain Weekend. ... Speakers and presenters will share their real-world experiences and lead the group in discussions on issues that confront our nation, state and communities."
http://www.wral.com/lt-gov-forest-holds-men-only-christian-retreats-in-nc-mountains/17482130/

Reporter attacks Democrats for attacking Legislative report

Somebody apparently pushed the wrong buttons:

Democrats charge racism, mischaracterize school report: The state Democratic Party said Wednesday that a new report from an off-session study committee will "break up North Carolina’s county-wide school districts and re-segregate North Carolina’s public schools." It will not.

In fact, the report doesn't recommend any legislation. It says "any future legislation considered by the General Assembly to create a procedure by which citizens may initiate the breakup of large (school systems) will require additional study.” The report also recommends that any division efforts "take care to ensure equality."

I don't usually include headlines when grabbing quotes, but in this case it was necessary to demonstrate the (angry) flavor of the article. Not sure where the animus comes from, but I can guess. Some efforts by political operatives and over-zealous advocates to influence news stories can cross the line, into the area of bullying and harassment. I've seen reporters complain about this on more than one occasion, and those complaints are justified. Let them do their jobs. But even if that is the case, that "irritation" should not bleed into the actual reporting. And as far as that last sentence, I've got three words for this reporter: "Separate But Equal." That was the justification used by Segregationists for decades for keeping black children in their own poorly-funded schools. As to the report itself, which generated this apparent bad blood, it most certainly does give lawmakers a roadmap for re-segregating some of NC's schools:

Thursday News: Winning?

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NC'S MIDDLE CLASS WILL PAY HIGHER STATE TAXES THANKS TO TRUMP: Many North Carolinians will be paying more taxes to the state because of the federal tax changes signed into law by President Donald Trump before Christmas, officials said Wednesday. That's good news for the state budget, where lawmakers expect to see an additional $120 million in revenue over the next two years, but not so great for taxpayers. North Carolina uses federal adjusted gross income as a starting point to calculate state taxes. Because AGI is figured after the smaller deductions but before the standard deduction, the state stands to gain because some people will have a higher starting point to figure their taxes.
http://www.wral.com/federal-tax-changes-could-mean-higher-state-taxes/17480149/

SCSJ maps the school-to-prison pipeline

Thousands of teens are caught in this downward whirlpool every year:

As in previous years, in 2016-17, black students were overrepresented in every category of exclusionary discipline. Statewide, black students were 4.3 times more likely to be given a short-term suspension than their white classmates, and 3.4 times more likely to be given a long-term suspension. In 17 school districts, the likelihood that black students would be given a short-term suspension as compared to their white peers was even higher than the statewide average.

Let those numbers sink in, especially considering how widespread this problem is. That fact undercuts the "default" conservative claim that this is a gang problem, and not a systemic racism issue. Every step of the way, from elementary school through whatever grade of high school they can climb up to, and then with their first brush with the court system, black males are dealt with as if they were a public health threat, while their white counterparts are given "second chances" over and over (and over) again. If you haven't witnessed this inequality, you haven't been looking. I can't say it better than this:

Wednesday News: Put your money where your mouth is

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COOPER WANTS MORE FUNDING FOR DEQ TO ADDRESS GENX CHALLENGES: Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that he plans to include $14.5 million in his recommended budget to address health and safety threats posed by GenX and other emerging contaminants. "Protecting the water we drink and the air we breathe is critical, and my budget recommendations will give state agencies the tools they need to continue keeping North Carolina families healthy," Cooper said in a statement. "Our administration has taken strong action to hold polluters accountable, but we need meaningful investments in water testing, permitting and scientific analysis to protect our environment statewide." Cooper last year sought $2.6 million for the state Department of Environmental Quality and the state Department of Health and Human Services to study GenX and its long-term health effects, but lawmakers provided only $435,000 to the local water authority in Wilmington and scientists at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington studying GenX.
http://www.wral.com/cooper-seeking-14-5m-in-state-budget-to-address-genx/17477015/

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