scharrison's blog

SCOTUS decision prompts release of former lottery official

Kevin Geddings gets his walking papers:

A judge on Tuesday ordered a former North Carolina lottery commissioner convicted of five counts of the honest services law released from a Georgia prison.

Geddings was found guilty of honest services mail fraud for not disclosing his financial ties to a company that was expected to bid for North Carolina's lottery business.

Another step backward for ethics reform. In the absence of this (Federal) statute, what other criminal laws would come to bear on a "failure to disclose" these conflicts of interest?

NC chosen for national gun rights battle

And a court ruling here could be used as precedent in courts across the nation:

The Second Amendment Foundation on Monday filed a federal lawsuit in North Carolina, seeking a permanent injunction against the governor, local officials and local governments from declaring states of emergency under which private citizens are prohibited from exercising their right to bear arms.

“Through this lawsuit in North Carolina,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, “we intend to show that state emergency powers statutes that allow government officials to suspend fundamental civil rights, including the right to bear arms, are unconstitutional and therefore should be nullified.

NC pinches pennies on per-student spending

There's still room to get worse, but not much:

North Carolina ranks among the worst in the nation in terms of education spending per student, according to a new Census report.

The state spent $7,996 per student during the 2007-08 school year, better than only six other states: Mississippi ($7,901), Tennessee ($7,739), Oklahoma ($7,685), Arizona ($7,608), Idaho ($6,931) and Utah ($5,765).

New York spent the most on each elementary, middle and high school student, at $17,173, while nationally, the per-pupil spending totaled $10,259.

Unlocking the mysteries of the human brain

Exploring the placebo effect:

Increasingly, placebo effects are being viewed as real and tangible, if mysterious. In various surveys, 45 percent to 85 percent of American and European practitioners say they have used placebos in clinical practice, and 96 percent of academic physicians in the United States say they think placebos have therapeutic effects.

This really fascinates me. I operate from an (admittedly layman's) perspective that the human body/brain is capable of overcoming most ailments on its own, without the intervention of laboratory concoctions. And I have no doubt there is a drug available that would cure me of that fantasy. ;)

NORML seeks to expand presence in NC

Starting with a fundraiser in Asheville:

The purpose of Sunday's meeting — and a benefit concert that followed at The Garage at Biltmore — was to raise money for the group's nonprofit status as well as to discuss creative reform strategies and to educate about bills in committee in the N.C. General Assembly that would allow marijuana use for medical purposes.

The goal is to have Norml branches throughout the state, said organizer Alex Bumgardner, of Gastonia. The UNC Asheville graduate said there is a presence in Charlotte and Asheville already, but the group had its first meeting in Asheville “because the momentum is already there.”

The truth behind Sue Myrick's blathering

If you were to take this statement at face value:

“I understand the concerns of people; environmentally we have to live in a real world,” said Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C. “Until we can develop the other fuels, we will have to depend on fossil fuels.”

you would think she actually supports alternatives to fossil fuels, but we're just not there yet. Well, you would be wrong:

Voted NO on investing in homegrown biofuel.

Natural gas "rush" comes to Lee County

Residents are signing land-lease contracts already:

Energy companies are snapping up the rights to underground natural gas from scores of property owners in Lee County, where indications of a massive natural gas deposit recently surfaced.

"There's several levels of concern," said Ted Feitshans, an extension specialist at N.C. State University's agricultural economics department. "One is they're not getting the level of payment they could get if they were skilled negotiators."

Other issues include contracts that would leave property owners legally responsible for the cleanup costs if an environmental accident on their land contaminated neighboring properties or drinking water.

In his own words: Burr revealed

The other day I mentioned how we need to introduce the real Burr to his constituents. Not the stalwart statesman he wants them to perceive, but the thoughtless, selfish, and hypocritical corporate lackey he is. We'll start by looking at a statement he made back in April sucking up to the Tea Partiers:

"I see this as part of the cavalry coming," Burr said. "They're mobilizing for the right reason. We can't continue to spend like we're spending."

Burr said the $787 billion stimulus package isn't helping citizens. "Nobody sees it," he said. "It stopped paving roads. It hasn't built any bridges," Burr said. "People are grabbing me and saying, 'Get me a job.'"

TVA lifts moratorium on its Generation Partners program

Whatever brought this about, it's a good move:

The Tennessee Valley Authority has ended a short moratorium on new enrollments in its Generation Partners program that encourages solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric projects.

A TVA statement Wednesday announced that enrollments are again being accepted for renewable energy projects of up to 200 kilowatts, with $1,000 payments provided to offset startup costs. TVA will also buy 100 percent of the green power that is produced and will pay the retail rate, plus any fuel cost adjustment, plus a premium per kilowatt-hour.

Kay continues her work for small farms

It's nice to know somebody's looking out for them:

Hagan is cosponsoring two amendments to the Senate version. One of them, which would exempt family operations from new performance and record-keeping requirements, is now being rewritten.

“We had started out having it by a dollar amount,” Hagan explained. “It was $500,000 [in gross income] but now it’s being looked at [by] the metric … like how many bushels of peaches that they would sell.”

Focusing on the metric of production will make it easier to isolate smaller-scale operations, explained the senator.


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