Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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COMMON SENSE DACA RENEWAL DESERVES NC DELEGATION'S SUPPORT: There no rational reason not to both extend and provide a path to citizenship for those who came to this nation as children, not of their own doing. Most consider this nation as their own – they’ve never known anything else. They attend U.S. schools and colleges and many hold jobs and are embarking on careers in their communities. Cold-hearted sentiments, reflected recently by North Carolina U.S. Rep. George Holding, are unrealistic and amount to holding these kids hostage to prevailing partisan winds and political pandering to a hyper-ideological fringe. Making a child responsible for the actions of their parents is, frankly, dumbfounding. “Breaking the law has consequences and that will flow down to your children,” Holding said. Really? This is no small issue. North Carolina ranks seventh in the number of immigrants in the DACA program. There are more than 42,000 North Carolina residents eligible for DACA deferrals according to the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-common-sense-daca-renewal-deserves-n-c-delegation-s-support/17271875/

Saturday News: Shut down

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GOP REFUSAL TO FIX DACA FORCES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunction. Last-minute negotiations crumbled as Senate Democrats blocked a four-week stopgap extension in a late-night vote, causing the fourth government shutdown in a quarter century. Behind the scenes, however, leading Republicans and Democrats were trying to work out a compromise to avert a lengthy shutdown. Social Security and most other safety net programs are unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions will continue, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay. But if no deal is brokered before Monday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article195508059.html

Court orders Special Master's maps be used for 2018 Legislative races

This is a different case than what the US Supreme Court just ruled on. Sorry for the confusion (if you were confused, that is), and I will add "Congressional" to the title of the earlier story.

Trump White House: A culture of unethical behavior

It doesn't take a year to fill out financial disclosure forms:

A year into Donald Trump’s presidency, records show five of his top staffers still have not secured final approval of their financial reports — disclosures that are required by law to ensure Americans that these senior officials aren’t personally benefiting from their White House jobs. Another four staffers received certification by the Office of Government Ethics after McClatchy first requested their forms last month.

The delay is likely due to Trump staffers either refusing to disclose mandated information to OGE, failing to resolve a conflict of interest or violating an ethics law or regulation, according to two ethics experts familiar with the long-standing process.

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, personally profits from government actions it helps facilitate like a duck, it's probably a corrupt duck. While a U.S. President (is supposed to) provide a leadership example for the rest of the world, he (or she) also provides an example to Cabinet and staff. And apparently Trump's example is, "We are above the law, and we can do whatever the hell we want." Here are a few of the more questionable violators:

Friday News: Gerrymandering rollercoaster

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SUPREME COURT SIDES WITH GOP AND BLOCKS NEW CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT MAPS: The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the decision of a lower court ordering North Carolina lawmakers to redraw the state's congressional districts by next week. A panel of three federal judges recently struck down the map drawn in 2016 as excessively partisan and demanded a new map be completed by Jan. 24. At the same time, the judges wanted to appoint an independent expert to draw a second map for them to consider. When the judges refused to stay their order, lawmakers appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that rushing out a new map would throw elections into chaos. Candidate filing for congressional and other offices starts Feb. 12. The 7-2 ruling by the Supreme Court means the map drawn in 2016 will be used in the May primaries and this fall's elections.

Free to discriminate!

Cheeto declared today that healthcare workers are free to discriminate against others based on their religious beliefs. Now that the moral handcuffs are off, and the Hippocratic Oath is rendered meaningless, a new wave of personal freedom is upon us.

Polluters and environmentalists in NC form questionable joint lobbying group

Purportedly to better conserve natural resources:

NC Forever appears to invite the lambs to lie down with the lions: Environmental Defense Fund, NC Coastal Federation and Audubon Society of North Carolina, plus several parks nonprofits, are joining groups with dubious environmental histories: global pork producer Smithfield Foods, agribusiness advocates the NC Farm Bureau, mining and quarrying company Martin Marietta, and the NC Forestry Association, which represents primarily the interests of the timber industry.

Nonetheless, the nonprofit plans to lobby state lawmakers to appropriate much-needed money to conservation programs, such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which have sustained major cuts over the past seven years. From 2000 to 2017, state appropriations to the trust fund have declined by more than half, from $40 million to $18 million.

Go and read the whole article. Lisa Sorg has once again delved deeply into an issue, answering most of the questions I had yet to formulate. But that still leaves me with these important questions: What good (net benefit) will we achieve in increasing state funding (taxpayer monies) to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to *attempt* to mitigate water pollution, while we allow massive CAFOs like Smithfield to continually pollute our water? What net benefit will we achieve by purchasing 1,000 acres of woodlands for conservation, while tens of thousands of acres are clear-cut by the wood pellet industry to fuel Europe's wood-burning boondoggle that's supposed to be "renewable" energy? It appears this group is the brainchild of Smithfield Foods, patterned after their Virginia version:

Thursday News: Demagogue

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MARK MEADOWS (ONCE AGAIN) MAY BE KEY DRIVER OF GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: As Republicans in Congress scramble for the votes needed to pass a fourth temporary funding bill to avoid a government shutdown, House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows wants the House to look beyond the four-week measure. “At what point are we going to have a plan on where we’re going to land or are we just going to hope Feb. 16 is better than Jan. 19 because it’s in a different month?” said Meadows, a western North Carolina Republican. Meadows said he and members of the conservative Freedom Caucus were willing to vote no – against the wishes of House leadership and the White House, which came out in support of the funding bill Wednesday. The measure includes funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but not a fix for young immigrants brought to the country illegally.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article19...

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