Monday News: GOTAAV

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SHARP DECLINE IN BLACK VOTER TURNOUT COULD SPELL TROUBLE FOR DEMOCRATS IN 2018: Once prized fighters in the battle for voting rights, students at America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities dropped their guard in the 2016 elections. Voter turnout among the estimated 300,000 students at HBCUs fell nearly 11 percent from 2012 to 2016, according to a national survey by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University. The decline, while consistent with a fall off among black voters of all ages in 2016, was a sharp departure. If historic trends hold, Democrats could see black voter turnout drop 30 percent in 2018, resulting in 5.2 million fewer African-American voters, according to a report by the non-partisan Voter Participation Center and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article185996913.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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IT'S TIME FOR LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO COOPERATE NOT OBFUSCATE ON REDISTRICTING: Federal judges have said repeatedly that North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature has produced voting districts that discriminate against African-American voters -- illegally segregating them into state Senate and House districts. One court puts it bluntly, that Republican legislators had, with “surgical precision,” targeted black voters to minimize their participation in elections. So, when the court appointed an expert to draw fair districts and remedy the mess the General Assembly’s created, the legislators’ stubborn reaction didn’t come as a surprise. “It appears the special master has engaged in racial sorting to establish districts with racial targets for black voting age population,” lawyers for the legislature said Friday – objecting to the draft plan Special Master Nathaniel Persily offered up a few days earlier. So, addressing the problem the legislature CREATED marks illegal consideration of race? Let’s get real here.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-it-s-time-for-legislative-leaders-cooperate-not-obfuscate-on-redistric...

House GOP tax plan especially painful for teachers

When making something more "simple" also makes it more costly:

Any full-time instructor at a public or private K-12 school is currently eligible for the $250 deduction. It’s an “above-the-line” deduction, meaning teachers don’t have to itemize to claim it. It’s listed on the part of the tax form alongside deductions for moving expenses, student loan interest and Health Savings Accounts. The House GOP bill does away with those popular deductions as well.

Richardson worries about other ways the legislation may affect education. The Senate bill scraps all state and local tax deductions. Most schools in the United States get their funding from property taxes. Atlanta’s public schools already had to make budget cuts this year after a property tax freeze. School funding could become even more contentious, especially in high-tax cities, if the GOP tax bills are enacted.

In a perfect world, negotiations between the Senate and the House would get rid of the bad parts of each, lessening the sting for teachers and others. But we don't live there. A closer look at some of the things this particular teacher has had to purchase out-of-pocket provides a glimpse of a much deeper problem:

Saturday News: An idiot shall lead them

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THE CLOSER YOU LOOK AT DALLAS WOODHOUSE, THE LESS YOU SEE: In 2014, Woodhouse stood on the sidelines of a Moral Monday protest. He recruited a young woman to wear a sun costume. He wanted to convey to protesters that sunny days had arrived for the state’s economy under GOP leadership, so he handed out Sunkist sodas and yellow, sun-shaped stress balls with the message, “Jobs up, unemployment down.” Woodhouse went on MSNBC during the 2016 presidential election to explain why the state should not have early voting on Sundays. He then pulled out a pair of handcuffs mid-interview to blast Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. “We don’t have a suppression vote problem in North Carolina,” he told MSNBC. “The Democrats have a depression problem. And you know why? It’s very simple: Their candidate, if elected, could have these (handcuffs) on Inauguration Day.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article18...

Ralph Hise leads latest GOP attack on teacher's union

First you thin their ranks, then you question their membership numbers:

The legislature started requiring the audits in 2014, after a different Republican-backed law targeting the NCAE was struck down in court as unconstitutional. But each year, the NCAE simply refuses to cooperate. “... It certainly appears NCAE is refusing to respond because it does not meet the requirement and is violating the law,” Republican Sen. Ralph Hise said in an email. Hise is a critic of the NCAE who was a driving force behind the audit requirement.

The NCAE says it doesn’t have to comply with the audit. “The NCAE believe the law as written and being implemented by the state Auditor is overly intrusive in violation of the constitutional rights of the association and its members and further exceeds the authority of the state Auditor,” the group wrote in a letter to state officials earlier this year.

As usual, this is just another end-around attempt by Republicans to get something the courts refused to allow them, the discontinuation of payroll-deducted membership dues. But what nobody seems to want to talk about: Membership in the NCAE is voluntary. As in, the teachers in question have agreed to pay these dues, and are fine with that method of payment. This isn't just an attack on the NCAE as a monolithic entity, it's an attack on the individual teachers themselves. And frankly, Ralph Hise is the last person who should be criticizing people over non-compliance:

Friday News: Prepare to be fleeced

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PUTS NET NEUTRALITY IN THE CROSSHAIRS: On Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, a plan that many see as an attack on net neutrality. The new rules would end regulations that keep service providers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter from favoring some sites and apps over others, according to AP. Those who advocate for net neutrality say undoing these rules makes it harder for the government to crack down on internet providers who act against consumer interests and that it will will harm innovation. Some fear it could lead to a a tiered internet, where users have to pay for the specific kinds of content they use.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article186102938.html

Thanksgiving open thread: Celebrate, but also contemplate

Sometimes my mind works in strange ways. On holidays like today, I often wonder what other people are doing, if families are coming together in joy or reaffirming why they have avoided each other for so long. And then I start to think about those family members who are suffering in secrecy, who probably view holidays as a cruel reminder of the normal life they have been denied. Domestic abuse victims are sometimes completely shielded from view, but much more often, they have to put on a show of happiness to conceal their situation, or face the consequences after everybody leaves. We kid ourselves that these situations are rare, but it's likely happening only a few doors down in our neighborhood. And maybe even right in front of us. The CDC just published a new report this year, and the numbers are staggering:

Thursday News: Suborned

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POPE-FUNDED THINK TANK TAKES CREDIT FOR MANIPULATING UNC BOARD OF GOVERNORS: A conservative think tank in North Carolina is taking some credit for recent university policies enacted by the legislature and the UNC Board of Governors. In its Thanksgiving-themed fundraising letter, the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal thanked its supporters and referred to them as partners in higher education reform. “Thank you for helping us make great strides this year in advancing needed reforms in North Carolina,” said the email, signed by Jenna Robinson, president of the center. “Finally we’ve seen action from the people who are in the position to make decisions,” she said. “Seeing that means that we are pointing out problems that people think are important. We will continue to point out those problems, and obviously not every problem that we point out will lead anyone to take any particular action.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article186112973.html

Jerry Tillman admits judicial redistricting is partisan power grab

The word you're trying to recall is "Brazen."

One of the legislative proposals is a bill that changes the configuration of superior court, district court and prosecutorial districts across the state. At last week’s meeting, Asheboro attorney Jon Megerian said the changes were designed to get more Republican judges elected. In a weekend interview, Tillman did not argue with that notion.

“All redistricting, whether it be Republicans or Democrats, they are partisan activities,” he said. “The Constitution says the winning party will do that. It’s a partisan activity that goes to the winning party in the election."

“If it’s partisan, you’re going to draw them to your advantage if you can. It’s our job and our time and our responsibility to do exactly that.”

There is a deep logical fallacy in the "I've been given power by gerrymandering which gives me the right to gerrymander" position, but I can't pin the damn thing down. Something something in Latin, how's that?

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