Friday News: Wrong time, wrong place

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ROWAN COUNTY FORCED TO PAY ACLU LEGAL BILLS OVER GOVERNMENT PRAYER: A federal judge found the way the Rowan County Commission prayed before public meetings unconstitutional. An appeals court eventually agreed and the Supreme Court last summer declined to hear the case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, federal court records show. Now the county will have to pay the ACLU’s legal bills for the five-year legal fight: $285,000. On Monday, County Commission members voted to pay the bill, the Salisbury Post reports. The lawsuit dates back to 2013 when three Rowan County residents sued the county commission over the public prayer at the beginning of each meeting, according to court filings. The commission chair or members give a prayer at the beginning of each meeting, the lawsuit says, and over six years 97 percent of prayers were Christian. An appeals court sided with the residents, represented by the ACLU, in 2017.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article224219600.html

An actual expert weighs in on the Wall

I found this on Facebook. It's an awesome explanation of what's wrong with Trump's Wall of Shame:

Amy Patrick
January 8 at 10:52 PM

Howdy.

I’m a licensed structural and civil engineer with a MS in structural engineering from the top program in the nation and over a decade of experience on high-performance projects, and particularly of cleaning up design disasters where the factors weren’t properly accounted for, and I’m an adjunct professor of structural analysis and design at UH-Downtown. I have previously been deposed as an expert witness in matters regarding proper construction of walls and the various factors associated therein, and my testimony has passed Daubert.

Am I a wall expert? I am. I am literally a court-accepted expert on walls.

Structurally and civil engineering-wise, the border wall is not a feasible project. Trump did not hire engineers to design the thing. He solicited bids from contractors, not engineers. This means it’s not been designed by professionals. It’s a disaster of numerous types waiting to happen.

Blistering analysis of the GOP Legislature's failure to address school shootings

Talk about an exercise in futility:

Consider Recommendation 2, which urges a civics curriculum in each grade that focuses on citizenship, courtesy, and deference to school administrators. Of course, nothing is inherently objectionable about civic responsibility. But emphasizing it in a report ostensibly about school safety, in a year in which so many students died from gun violence, is a slap in the face to the teachers, students, and parents across the state who have demanded and deserve serious-minded solutions.

Most troubling of all is Recommendation 3, which urges legislation requiring that students receive first-aid instruction “on the immediate response to bleeding, how to recognize life threatening bleeding, and appropriate ways to stop the bleeding.” Tying tourniquets and applying quick clot bandages: no longer, apparently, the exclusive province of paramedics and other first responders, but tasks kindergartners must master.

What about triage? At least two (2) children in each class should be well-versed in what constitutes a fatal injury, so they can use a red Sharpie and put an "X" on the foreheads of any classmates that can't be saved. Yes, I'm being facetious, but that still shows a higher level of respect than this "report" deserves:

Thursday News: Suppressing the press

REPORTERS FORCED INTO THE BASEMENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: For 56 years, ever since the Legislative Building opened, media organizations have had workspace across the hall from where news conferences are held and downstairs from the House and Senate chambers. But that's about to change, and legislative leaders don't want to talk about why. Legislative Services Officer Paul Coble has decided to move the press to a smaller space in the basement in the farthest corner of the building. "[It's] as distant from the action as you could possibly be, which will make it harder for reporters to keep tabs on what's going on in the building," said Colin Campbell, editor of NC Insider, a state government news service. "We'll be farther from the floor when there's a meeting called with very little notice, and there'll be a reduction in space, which will mean fewer reporters have dedicated space." Asked about the move Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said it's up to Coble.
https://www.wral.com/media-getting-squeezed-at-legislative-building/18113846/

Coal Ash Wednesday: Duke Energy's "cap in place" proposal backed by rate hike scare

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Taking passive-aggressive bullying to a whole new level:

The proposal is likely to win few friends among environmentalists who want to see all of the Belews Creek plant’s 12 million tons of coal ash dug out of the basin and reburied in a lined landfill.

But Duke Energy says the new alternative makes more sense because it requires less disruptive excavation and carries a significantly lower price tag for the utility’s North Carolina customers, who ultimately will bear the cost of coal ash disposal in their power bills.

Bolding mine, because that is not a foregone conclusion, and the author should know that. All rate increases must be approved by the NC Utilities Commission, and Duke Energy has had several of their requests reduced substantially in the last 2-3 years. That being said, the NCUC should have taken a harder stance on this, and refused *any* increases associated with Duke's previous irresponsible activities. It's their compromises allowing some increases that have led to a situation where the utility can raise such a threat as above, so they can do a half-ass job sweeping coal ash under the rug. Just covering up a coal ash impoundment that does not have a bottom liner may actually increase the amount of Arsenic that leaks out:

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