DUKE ENERGY AGREES SOLAR ENERGY DOES *NOT* INCREASE POLLUTION: The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that has labeled Duke “Public Energy Enemy No. 1” in part for not investing more in renewable energy, says “the nation’s largest investor-owned electric utility is pushing an outlandish claim that the growth of solar power will increase air pollution.” By the time the group had blasted the company, Duke had already released its own statement, suggesting that past media articles had mischaracterized its request of regulators. Duke credited the growth of solar energy, along with the replacement of coal-fired power plants with cleaner-burning natural gas units, for steep overall declines in its carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxide emissions. The claim that solar energy causes more air pollution is “faulty logic,” Duke’s statement said. “It’s like saying an electric vehicle is bad since it will increase your electric bill, while neglecting to mention the cost savings of not buying gasoline.”
FLOODING, TARIFFS, AND OTHER MISFORTUNES HAVE NC FARMERS SUFFERING MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS: "I've had stress before, but nothing so compounded that you could feel the weight of that stress," Vollmer said. Robin Tutor-Marcom is the director of the North Carolina Agromedicine Institute, and she has heard many stories like Vollmer's over the last few years. That's why a lot of the focus of the Agromedicine Institute is now on farmers' mental health. "Farming has been in such a transition that it's not the farming of our grandfathers. It's not the farming of our fathers," she said. Tutor-Marcom worries about depression and suicide among the farmers in North Carolina who are facing that transition. "We do have farmers who have come into cooperative extension offices or farm credit offices and said, 'You know, there's no solution for this except for me to go home and get my gun,'" said Tutor-Marcom while talking about farmers who could be at risk for taking their own lives. "We think that, going into the fall and the winter, we may see a true escalation, so yes, we are gravely concerned. I think about it every day," she said.
THWARTED SCHOOL SHOOTER CHOSE NC COLLEGE BECAUSE IT'S EASIER TO GET GUNS HERE: For nearly a year, Paul Steber had been planning, prosecutors say. The 19-year-old from Massachusetts had chosen a university in North Carolina to begin his freshman year because, he told authorities, it was easier to get guns there. Since last Christmas, prosecutors said, Steber had been thinking about committing violence: He studied past mass shootings and had stocked his dorm room with weapons. But the plan never came to be. On Tuesday evening, a week into the fall semester at High Point University in North Carolina, other students on campus reported to staff that Steber had two guns, according to a letter from university officials obtained by Fox 8. Campus security responded, the firearms were confiscated, and the High Point Police Department began investigating. Assistant District Attorney Lori Wickline gave the judge a detailed outlined of the information their investigation had already uncovered. She told the court that Steber explained to officers that he had been thinking about committing violence since last December and had intended to carry out a shooting by Christmas 2019, reported ABC News. “He had been recently watching videos of the Charleston mass shooting down in South Carolina and other mass shootings so that he could learn what to do and what not to do,” Wickline said, reported the AP.
"SPACE COMMAND" IS BACK OUT OF MOTHBALLS, BUT NO SPACE FORCE YET: Mindful of President Donald Trump’s intense interest in space, the Pentagon is declaring U.S. Space Command open for business as part of a broader effort to better defend American interests in space. But there’s still no Space Force. Trump planned to participate in a ceremony Thursday marking Space Command’s official establishment, or to be more precise, it’s re-establishment. The command existed for more than a decade before being eliminated in 2002 as part of the government’s post-9/11 reorganization. Space Force, which has become a reliable applause line for Trump at his campaign rallies, has yet to win final approval by Congress. The renewed focus on space as a military domain reflects concern about the vulnerability of U.S. satellites, both military and commercial, that are critical to U.S. interests and are potentially susceptible to disruption by Chinese and Russian anti-satellite weapons. When Jim Mattis was defense secretary, the Pentagon was hesitant to embrace the idea of a Space Force. Trump’s first Pentagon chief initially saw it as potentially redundant and not the best use of defense dollars. His successor, Mark Esper, has cast himself as a strong supporter of creating both a Space Force and a command dedicated to space.
CHINA'S CRACKDOWN ON HONG KONG PROTESTS INTENSIFIES: The police in Hong Kong on Friday arrested prominent activists and blocked plans for a march on Saturday, a sensitive political anniversary, as the authorities intensified their crackdown on an opposition movement that has shaken the semiautonomous Chinese city for months. Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, student leaders of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong five years ago that presaged the current protests, were arrested on Friday morning, their political organization said. Andy Chan, who led the now-banned Hong Kong National Party, was taken into custody Thursday night at the Hong Kong airport, he said on Facebook. The arrests were the latest in a dramatic week of events in Hong Kong, where tensions were running high after three months of protests touched off by widespread anger over legislation, since suspended, that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial.