Wednesday News: Too close to call?

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MCFARLANE LIKELY HEADED TO RUNOFF WITH FRANCIS IN RALEIGH MAYOR'S RACE: Raleigh voters will likely return to the polls next month to elect a mayor. With all precincts reporting, incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane leads challenger Charles Francis by about 6,200 votes. But it wasn’t enough to win a majority that is required to avoid the possibility of a runoff Nov. 7. McFarlane won about 48.45 percent of the 52,449 votes cast, while Francis won about 36.67 percent. A third candidate, Paul Fitts, won about 14.76 percent. McFarlane, an unaffiliated candidate who is seeking her fourth two-year term, has won easily in the past, garnering more than 61 percent of the vote in 2011, 72 percent in 2013 and 74 percent in 2015. But this is the first time McFarlane has faced a Democratic challenger. She has been endorsed by the Wake County Democratic Party in previous elections for mayor, but this year the party backed Francis, a registered Democrat.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/wake-county/article178191436.html

Public Transit Participation Survey

Tuesday News: The fix is in

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OREGON BILLIONAIRE BEHIND THE PUSH FOR CHARTER SCHOOL TAKEOVERS IN NC: A school network founded by a wealthy Oregon resident is expanding quickly in North Carolina. John Bryan founded the charter network TeamCFA, which has 13 schools in North Carolina – more than in any other state. Arizona has four TeamCFA schools, and Indiana has two. In a letter posted to the network’s website in April, Bryan said his commitment of “significant economic resources” – contributions to politicians and nonprofit “social welfare” groups, and the engagement of investment advisers and others – helped win legislative approval of the controversial North Carolina law that will have charter operators take over up to five low-performing public schools. One goal, he wrote, was to “inculcate my belief in the libertarian, free market, early American Founder’s principles” into both the foundation and the individual schools.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article177836091.html

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The most important thing many of you can do today:

I've been following the early vote daily numbers in some of these primaries, and the turnout has been less than stellar. If you don't vote in the primary, you may show up at the general election and *not* see the person or persons you were rooting for. Don't let that happen.

DEQ rejects permit application for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Unfortunately, this is just one part of the process:

Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has rejected an environmental plan by Duke Energy and three other energy companies to build an interstate pipeline to carry natural gas from West Virginia into North Carolina.

The letter of disapproval from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is the first decision on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline from any state or federal government agency in the three states the project would traverse. Duke Energy is also expecting a decision this month from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as to whether the $5 billion pipeline project is necessary.

If you'll think back to the Stop Titan days, you'll remember their permits were rejected before they were approved, so don't be surprised if this decision gets reversed in the near future. But it does demonstrate that DEQ is closely scrutinizing the issue, and isn't going to lay down and play dead.

Michigan judge awards joint custody to rapist

Rumors of a cease-fire in the War on Women are grossly exaggerated:

Christopher Mirasolo, 27, of Brown City was awarded joint legal custody by Judge Gregory S. Ross after DNA testing established paternity of the child, according to the victim’s attorney, Rebecca Kiessling, who is seeking protection under the federal Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.

“This is insane,” said Kiessling, who filed objections Friday with Ross. “Nothing has been right about this since it was originally investigated. He was never properly charged and should still be sitting behind bars somewhere, but the system is victimizing my client, who was a child herself when this all happened.”

I'll have to admit, when I first saw reports of this on Facebook, I assumed it was somewhere between Fake News or a wildly-misleading headline. But it's true. She was only 12 years old when she was raped, and it wasn't simply a statutory thing, she was kidnapped and confined. The strange thing is (okay, the whole damn thing is strange), the rapist didn't file for custody, this massive injustice was the result of conservative efforts to punish those seeking public assistance:

Monday News: No refuge here

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO CRACK DOWN ON ASYLUM-SEEKERS IN FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES: In a letter to Congress outlining its wish list, the administration called for making it significantly harder to secure asylum and easier for federal agents to deport people who claim they fear returning to their home country. “Many Americans would be surprised to know that being released into the interior of the country as an illegal immigrant is as simple as filing for an asylum petition,” Vitiello said. The administration said asylum loopholes have also contributed to a “massive” backlog in the courts, where there are more than 270,000 pending asylum cases. It’s too easy for many migrants to be released into the United States simply by claiming they are afraid to return to their home country, officials said. They want to make it easier to deport applicants back to their home country and impose penalties against those filing baseless applications.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article177791566.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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LEGISLATIVE LEADERS SEEK TO TURN NC INTO BANANA REPUBLIC: There are regimes in the world that, barring disasters, cancel elections. They are derisively called Banana Republics, run by juntas whose strongman rulers aren’t quite sure they’ve rigged the voting to come out in their favor. Unfortunately these days, we don’t have to look beyond our borders – or even our state – to see this kind of undemocratic behavior. Senate Leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, House Rules boss David Lewis are the junta and North Carolina is a banana republic. They are cancelling the 2018 judicial and district attorney primaries because their efforts at rigging the elections through their latest gerrymandering scheme might not completely do the trick. Primaries for state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals will also be cancelled – even though they’re statewide votes and not connected with any redistricting.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-legislative-leaders-seek-to-turn-n-c-into-banana-republic/16997409/

Yes, the Affordable Care Act is still in place

But Trump is making it more difficult to enroll:

You might not know it from the political rhetoric, but the Affordable Care Act is still the law. Every American is still legally required to carry health insurance or face a tax penalty of at least $695. There will still be plans available on the exchanges in every county, and the federal government will still provide the subsidies that help more than 9 million people afford their premiums.

But while much is the same, the actual sign-up process will look very different. The Trump administration has made an array of changes that, taken together, will make the process more rushed and more confusing, consumer advocates and insurance experts told STAT.

And you can bet your bottom dollar Trump and his GOP cronies in Congress will continue to chew on this like rats nibbling on an electric cable. Aside from radically shortening the window of opportunity for enrollment, they're shutting the site down nearly every Sunday during this year's period:

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