Saturday News: The real handmaid's tale

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TRUMP ALLOWS MORE EMPLOYERS TO NOT PROVIDE BIRTH CONTROL TO FEMALE EMPLOYEES: President Donald Trump is allowing more employers to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious or moral objections, issuing new rules Friday that take another step in rolling back the Obama health care law. Employers with religious or moral qualms will also be able to cover some birth control methods, and not others. Experts said that could interfere with efforts to promote modern long-acting implantable contraceptives, such as IUDs, which are more expensive. The Trump administration's revision broadens a religious exemption that previously applied to houses of worship, religion-affiliated nonprofit groups and closely held private companies. Administration officials said the new policy defends religious freedom. In addition to nonprofits, privately held businesses will be able to seek an exemption on religious or moral grounds, while publicly traded companies can seek an exemption due to religious objections.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/article177401916.html

Friday News: Democracy on the wane

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NC GOP MAY BE PLANNING TO GET RID OF VOTER-ELECTED JUDGES: Not only does the plan do away with primary elections, it delays the period in which judicial candidates would formally sign up to run for office until June — four months after the existing schedule. The plan is included in a bill that mostly deals with easing ballot access requirements for third parties as well as for unaffiliated candidates. It also lowers the threshold for a primary candidate to win his or her party's nomination from 40 percent of the primary vote to 30 percent. But it was the changes to the election schedule that elicited the most comments. “The delay of the primary could indicate a strong possibility that we’ll be voting on whether to have a constitutional amendment to have merit selection of judges in January,” said Morey, who opposed doing away with judicial primaries. “What I think is the merit-based selection is a guise for legislative appointment of judges.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article177327746.html

The unmitigated arrogance of the power-mad NC GOP

Stripping more authority from Governor Cooper:

Counting the costs of substance abuse in NC communities

More funding is desperately needed from state government:

The number of children in the Person County foster care system continues to rise, primarily due to substance abuse, county officials said this week. This spring, there were 82 children in the custody of Person County Department of Social Services, and 55 were displaced due to a caregiver’s drug or alcohol use.

“Substance abuse is not just affecting people using drugs,” Person County DSS Director Carlton Paylor said during an event in Roxboro on Tuesday that was billed as a “mental health town hall” and attended by about 40 people. “It’s affecting the kids,” he said. “This is like a generational curse. It keeps going on and on and on.”

For those of you who haven't been touched by this crisis (your numbers are likely dwindling), consider yourself lucky. Most of our 100 counties have little or nothing in the form of treatment facilities for substance abuse, putting even more of a burden on what few rural hospitals still manage to operate. Something as intense as a 4-week rehab program requires a 50+ mile travel, but even worse, waiting several weeks for a bed to become available. And that wait, more than anything else, often ends up being a fatal roadblock. And here's an aspect that needs to be remembered:

Thursday News: Tying his hands

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AFTER DEEP BUDGET CUTS TO HIS STAFF, JOSH STEIN NOW TOLD HE CAN'T SHIFT WORKLOAD: State lawmakers who targeted Attorney General Josh Stein earlier this year with surprise budget cuts now have a proposal to dictate how the Democrat handles appeals of criminal cases. In August, after $10 million was cut from his budget, Stein announced that he had eliminated 45 positions in his office, and because of that he said he would have to shift work on some criminal appeals to district attorneys’ offices across the state. Now a proposed mandate tucked into a larger budget-related bill would prohibit Stein from farming that work out to anyone outside his office, and the Republican lawmakers behind it said on Wednesday that it was because they had heard from many district attorneys that they were not equipped to take on the work. District attorneys and law enforcement organizations urged lawmakers earlier this year to reconsider the cuts to Stein’s office.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article177117216.html

The NRA has invested over ten million in Burr & Tillis

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Don't expect any sensible gun regulations any time soon:

NRA groups have spent nearly $7 million on behalf of Burr. That includes $5.6 million that NRA groups spent last year against his Democratic opponent, Deborah Ross. That was more than the NRA spent against any candidate with the exception of Hillary Clinton.

And Tillis has gotten $4.5 million in help, including independent expenditures against his 2014 opponent, then-incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.

Considering there have been 273 mass shootings (4 or more people shot) in the last year, it's not a huge stretch to describe this as blood money. You know what else this signifies? The NRA was scared shitless they could lose these statewide races in North Carolina. You know, like they did when Roy Cooper retook the Governor's mansion for the Democratic Party. Think on that.

Pittenger leans on Karl Rove for fundraising shortfall

Brother Jerry Williamson has the low-down:

Pittenger's seat had already been targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and it looks as though solar energy financier and Marine veteran Dan McCready is the DCCC pick (although there are a couple of other Democrats in the race, including the man who lost to Pittenger in the general election of 2016).

The Karl Rove appearance looks like flop sweat to Erik Spanberg. He writes, "A Republican insider told me Tuesday that, while Rove remains a reliable draw for GOP donors, he also represents the anti-Trump wing of the party. He makes it hard for Pittenger to say, ‘I’m a Trump Republican’ because Rove has been so critical of President Trump.” If Pittenger makes it through the primary with Harris, he's going to be potentially damaged goods in the general elections of 2018.

Maybe, but I've got two words that make that last part a little iffy: Luther Strange, who lost the Alabama GOP US Senate Primary by almost ten points, after being endorsed by Trump. Don't get me wrong, I think Dan McCready is a fantastic candidate, and would cut the margin closer than anybody else. But Pittenger beat Christian Cano 58% to 42%, even after a bitter and nail-bitingly close Primary with *reverend* Mark Harris.

Wednesday News: Empty chair speaks volumes

CHEMOURS OFFICIAL A NO-SHOW AT SENATE COMMITTEE HEARING ON GENX: Chemours officials declined to participate in a public hearing Tuesday about compounds the company released into the Cape Fear River for years, asking instead to meet in private with Sen. Trudy Wade R-Guilford, the chair of a Senate committee studying the issue. Company officials did meet behind closed doors Tuesday with environmental regulators in Gov. Roy Cooper's administration, something Wade announced during her committee's hearing and which the administration later confirmed. The two sides discussed their ongoing legal dispute and the court order state officials won last month to block Chemours from discharging chemicals into the river. A Chemours spokesman did not respond to a WRAL News email seeking comment. Not only is the company facing inquiries from the state's environmental and health regulators, but subpoenas indicate that a U.S. Department of Justice investigation is also underway.
http://www.wral.com/chemours-skips-public-hearing-on-genx/16992321/

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