Filing begins for 2020 Legislative races in two weeks

Last year Democrats broke the GOP's supermajority in both houses of the General Assembly, and Democrats also fielded candidates in all 170 contests. How much the latter contributed to the former might be a subject for debate, but we would be foolish to write it off as a coincidence. Having a full slate of candidates changed the dynamic, and it also served to provide every Democrat in the state with General Assembly candidates to vote for. It was a monumental task, to be sure, but we can do it again. Follow this link to a WRAL story of the new Legislative districts, where you will find interactive maps for both the House and the Senate. p.s. I would recommend an "outside in" approach to candidate recruitment, putting effort into finding good candidates in the hard-to-find, mostly rural districts first.

Saturday News: $6.5 Million wasted

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GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION FINALLY ENDS, WITH LITTLE ACCOMPLISHED: The second-longest legislative session in North Carolina history has finally ended, but it likely will be remembered for what was left undone rather than what was accomplished. Lawmakers adjourned Friday after adopting a new congressional district map and filling a vacancy on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. The map, which still must be approved by a state court, passed along party lines after much Democratic complaining that it was still too partisan. The 2019 session lasted 156 days, trailing only the 179-day session in 2001. It cost state taxpayers at least $6.5 million, and for all of that money, no state budget was passed, teachers didn't get raises, Medicaid wasn't expanded and even plans to shift Medicaid to a managed care system could be in jeopardy.
https://www.wral.com/friday-wrap-long-session-finally-ends-with-final-map-redraw-but-much-left-undon...

Does Gannett merger signal the death of local journalism?

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Being a little fish in a big pond usually means you get eaten:

The deal would combine the country’s two largest newspaper chains, with more than 260 daily papers, and hundreds more websites and community and weekly papers in 47 states. The new company, to be called Gannett even though New Media is the acquirer, would have a daily print circulation of 8.7 million, dwarfing the next largest chain, McClatchy, with daily circulation of 1.7 million. McClatchy owns The News & Observer of Raleigh and The Charlotte Observer.

The companies say the advantages of size and reach will attract more digital advertisers and save expenses by eliminating operations deemed redundant or expendable, helping to offset a two-decade slide in revenue from print advertising and subscriptions, which has imperiled the industry.

Bolding mine, because I'm pretty sure that's the exact same wording Berkshire Hathaway used just before cutting the Greensboro News & Record staff down to a skeleton crew. Admittedly, it's real easy for people like me to grouse about the erosion of investigative journalism, since I don't have to solve the financial problems that brought this about. But I am currently subscribing (paying) for 4 different news outlets, so I'm kinda doing my part. Needless to say, the journalists' unions are not happy about this:

Friday News: Gerry Mander lives on

GOP'S PROPOSED CONGRESSIONAL MAP GIVES DEMS 2 MORE SEATS: Wake County Rep. Darren Jackson, the top Democrat in the N.C. House, said the map looks like it has five safe Democratic seats, eight safe Republican seats and no swing seats. That means politicians don’t have to be as accountable for their actions, he said, adding that he hopes a court will strike down these maps as it has with other maps passed by the Republican-controlled legislature. And state Rep. Deb Butler of Wilmington said several districts are highly similar to the shapes they have in the current gerrymandered map. “I’m wondering why we didn’t take a better effort to get away from what was identified as problematic,” she said.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article237362384.html

NC National Guard now protecting Syrian oilfields

Right in the crosshairs of ISIS, and anybody else who wants that oil:

The mechanized National Guard brigade combat team that is tasked with protecting infrastructure has been in Syria for a little over a week now, a key part of the U.S. military's repositioning of forces. While Pentagon officials will not put an exact figure on the number of troops expected to remain in Syria, they have said it is likely to be a few hundred fewer than the roughly 1,000 troops deployed there before October.

The policy changes have shaken up an already volatile region and severely tested the relationship between the U.S. and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, one of Washington's closest allies in the fight against ISIS.

The 30th Brigade Combat Team had recently deployed to Kuwait to replace a previous unit, and I had hoped their tenure would be uneventful. But when I saw reports of Trump wanting to move in some tanks and other armored vehicles to "provide security" for the oilfields in Syria, I got a sinking feeling. And with them being deployed after a monumental clusterfuck by Trump, I'm even more concerned:

Thursday News: Bring it down

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JUDGE SAYS CHATHAM COUNTY CAN REMOVE CONFEDERATE STATUE: A Superior Court judge cleared the way for Chatham County to remove its Confederate statue from the courthouse square after a roughly three-hour hearing Wednesday morning. County commissioners have given County Manager Dan LaMontagne the authority to take whatever steps he deems necessary for removing the statue, Chatham County Commissioner Jim Crawford said. A court injunction had blocked that from happening, but Superior Court Judge Susan Bray lifted the injunction Wednesday. Attorneys for the Winnie Davis Chapter of the N.C. United Daughters of the Confederacy failed to prove there would be “irreparable harm” if the monument were removed pending a decision about whether the county is allowed to do that under state law, Bray said.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/chatham-county/article237302774.html

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