Coal Ash Wednesday: Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit against Duke Energy

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When you have yet to clean up your mess, but still want to go outside and play:

A Duke Energy lawyer told a trio of judges on the state Court of Appeals the lawsuit filed by the state's environmental protection agency and joined by conservation groups should be dismissed. Coal ash, the residue left after decades of burning coal to generate power, can contain toxic materials like arsenic and mercury.

The company was in court in part because Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway has refused to dismiss the lawsuit. Ridgeway has indicated he would review the remediation plan the state Department of Environmental Quality approves, then decide independently whether the agency is requiring enough from Duke Energy to clean up the pollution, Long said.

It's no coincidence this legal gambit is taking place 13 days before Duke Energy's first substantial hearing on their massive rate hike request before the NC Utilities Commission. That case contains many "findings of fact" on Duke Energy's negligence in coal ash management, and if they can make that go away, it will strengthen their argument for a rate increase while severely weakening the opposition to it. And just to give a voice to those who will be adversely affected by this unreasonable action:

Patrick McHenry goes swimming with the loan sharks

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Proving that weasels can swim if the mood hits them:

If you ever harbor any questions as to what Trumpism looks like in all of its corrupt, dog-eat-dog, predatory splendor, there are two classic examples from our nation’s capital today to jog your memory.

Exhibit One is the laughably entitled “Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017” — a bill on which the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today at the behest of its chief sponsor, North Carolina congressman Patrick McHenry. As you probably surmised, the measure has nothing to do with protecting consumers and is instead a blatant attempt by the payday lending industry’s favorite congressman to revive the discredited and predatory practice nationwide.

Just to give you an idea of the level of corruption that creeps in with some of these "career" lawmakers, McHenry receives around $100,000 from the payday lending industry every election cycle. They may not always be his top contributors, but they are as reliable as the sun coming up every morning. This pay-to-play nonsense is so blatant it has sparked more than one formal complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics:

Wednesday News: Resegregation

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GOP LEADERS PONDER BREAKING UP SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO COURT SUBURBAN VOTERS: State lawmakers will begin studying next week how to break up North Carolina school districts, potentially paving the way for splitting large school systems like Wake County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Supporters said the state should look at what’s the most effective size for school districts while opponents said it could lead to resegregation of schools. Brawley, Bradford and Malone also represent counties where there’s been support from some suburban residents to break up their school districts. Many transplants to North Carolina are used to individual towns running their own small school systems. In contrast, most school systems in North Carolina are county-based.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article199908649.html

Birds of a feather: Rob Porter's domestic abuse was no secret in Trump's White House

By all rights he should be rotting in jail:

Colbie Holderness, Porter’s first wife, and Jennifer Willoughby, Porter’s second wife, both told the FBI their marriages had ended because of a pattern of physical and emotional abuse. According to their accounts, supported by photos, contemporaneous reporting to others, and a blog post written by Willoughby last April, Porter kicked these women, he punched and choked one of these women, he blackened one of these women’s eyes. He berated and insulted these women. Police were called.

But Rob Porter is also white, and the son of a prominent academic and thinker. He went to Harvard and Oxford, and he had a high-ranking job in the Oval Office, and was reportedly pressing for a higher one. He was dating Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest confidantes. So nobody did a thing about the allegations.

This literally makes me furious. The Trump connection is an important aspect, but the failures by law enforcement from the local to the national level are indicative of a sickness in the very heart of our society. They like to talk about how much terrorism they've prevented, but terrorist attacks happen every few minutes in America. Not by strangers from some exotic country, but by "loved ones," which makes it even more heinous. And we as progressives need to stop paying so much attention and lip-service to the "preponderance of evidence" approach when these things happen:

Tuesday News: The word you're searching for is "Draconian"

ALLEGATIONS SURFACE THAT PREGNANT NC INMATES REMAIN SHACKLED DURING CHILDBIRTH: SisterSong, which focuses on reproductive rights for women of color, said it reached out to the department Jan. 22 after someone from a local medical facility contacted them and said two prisoners were shackled despite medical staff asking that the shackles be removed. "Active labor" is one of a few exceptions to the prison system's restraint policies, which generally require inmates be restrained while outside a correctional facility or a secure transport vehicle. The policy also says new mothers "shall be restrained after birth of the child and the medical authorities have completed their work," but also that she "shall not have her hands restrained while bonding and feeding the baby." "The handcuffs will be removed from an inmate who has recently given birth in order for the inmate to hold her newborn child," the policy states. "The inmate must remain sitting in her bed or chair while holding the newborn child. Leg irons will remain on the inmate."
http://www.wral.com/state-prisons-plan-policy-change-after-reports-of-pregnant-women-shackled-during...

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Not bad for the first day of filing:

But that does leave 55 House seats to push for in the next 15 days. Roll up your sleeves.

Candidate filing begins today for 2018 (Mid-Term) Election

And you don't have to be a crotchety old man to ride the Blue Wave:

State Senator
At least 25 years of age by the date of the general election
Residence in state for two years prior to election
Residence in district for one year immediately prior to general election1
Registered to vote in the district and eligible to vote for the office

State House Representative
At least 21 years of age by the date of the general election
Residence in district for one year immediately prior to general election2
Registered to vote in the district and eligible to vote for the office

If I'm reading those footnotes correctly, the one year residency requirement is waived if your District is one that was "fixed" (which map, I don't know), but you still need to have set up a residency by the end of the filing period (Feb 28). Here are some other requirements for candidates, and those of you who have announced early need to pay close attention:

Monday News: The Dreamer debate

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MOODY TRUMP IS AN UNKNOWN FACTOR AS SENATE GEARS UP FOR IMMIGRATION FIX: The Senate begins a rare, open-ended debate on immigration and the fate of the "Dreamer" immigrants on Monday, and Republican senators say they'll introduce President Donald Trump's plan. Though his proposal has no chance of passage, Trump may be the most influential voice in the conversation. If the aim is to pass a legislative solution, Trump will be a crucial and, at times, complicating player. His day-to-day turnabouts on the issues have confounded Democrats and Republicans and led some to urge the White House to minimize his role in the debate for fear he'll say something that undermines the effort. Yet his ultimate support will be vital if Congress is to overcome election-year pressures against compromise. No Senate deal is likely to see the light of day in the more conservative House without the president's blessing and promise to sell compromise to his hard-line base.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article199615529.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

LEGISLATIVE LEADERS HOLD SHAMEFUL KANGAROO COURT SESSION: If anyone needs an example of the kind of abusive, unprofessional and unbusiness-like manner in which the General Assembly operates these days, all they needed to do was witness the conduct Thursday afternoon of the legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee meeting. It was an exercise in abuse by the legislative leadership and an embarrassment to the General Assembly and the citizens of North Carolina it represents. The time, place and manner of the grilling made for a disgusting display. The inquisitors were less concerned with answers than making veiled accusations, playing to their partisan base, the TV cameras and intimidating Lilly and the governor’s office. They owe Lilly, their fellow legislators and the voters who have given them the privilege to represent them, a full and sincere apology.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-legislative-leaders-hold-shameful-kangaroo-court-session/17323763/

Dear black women

Dear black women,

As I watched the HKonJ march in Raleigh today, I marveled at the impact black women had on the crowd. I see you as the foundation of the moral movement. Your presence, passion, and integrity set a high bar for political activism. You are the difference that needs to be made in 2018.

Twelve years ago, I wrote an essay entitled Dear women, where I appealed to the women of the world to please take over. Today, I’m specifically asking that of black women.

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