Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


OPEN ACCESS TO NC POLLS NEEDS TO BE PART OF VOTER ID SCRIPT: When it comes to gerrymandering, state Rep. David Lewis has even figured out how to do it for a legislative committee meeting. Lewis, a Harnett County Republicans, after all is one of the architects of North Carolina’s illegally gerrymandered legislative and congressional districts. During a legislative meeting Monday about implementing the newly enacted constitutional amendment requiring voters show a photo ID at polling places, all but a few of the public comment speakers self-identified as Republicans and echoed legislative leaders’ talking points. Coincidence? Perhaps. Just as it was that it was state GOP chairman Dallas Woodhouse who announced in an e-mail late last Wednesday afternoon, as most folks were focused on Thanksgiving plans, that the legislature would hold a “public hearing” on the voter ID amendment on Monday at 10 a.m.

Saturday News: Everybody's a farmer, apparently...

COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST BRENT JACKSON OVER MISIDENTIFYING DONORS: Hall contends that Jackson’s records show he received improper contributions and that he reported contributors whose identities were obscured or had misleading identifying information. Some of the donors benefited from favorable treatment in the General Assembly, Hall says. “By misidentifying donors with major interests in state contracts and the state budget, Sen. Jackson and his campaign deceive the public, falsely inflate his financial support from farmers, and violate campaign disclosure laws,” Hall’s complaint reads. The complaint says more than 80 contributors list their occupations as “farmer,” when in fact their occupations have nothing to do with agriculture, including executives from a wide range of fields. Jackson, in a phone interview Friday, said the complaint has prompted him to look for any corrections that need to be made in his campaign finance records.

Robeson County also under scrutiny in NC-09 race

And a pattern of fraud is emerging dealing with absentee ballots:

Steve Stone, chairman of the Robeson County Board of Elections, said state investigators have requested information the county board kept on an unusual number of absentee ballot requests. Stone said county elections officials began keeping logs of who dropped off large numbers of registration forms and absentee ballot requests, and they later reported their concerns to the state board in August.

Stone said county residents had reported that people were going door-to-door, telling voters that their registrations had been dropped and they needed to re-register. They were also asked to sign an absentee ballot request form, Stone said. At least five affidavits submitted to the state board described various instances of fraud, including multiple occasions when people came to voters’ doors to collect ballots and offered to fill them out for them.

I can't help but make the connection between an evangelical pastor and his devout followers breaking the law to get him elected. We usually associate these things with straight-up corruption, and blame money as the root cause. But I'm not so sure that's the case, here. As we've seen with the Word of Faith cult, breaking the law can be easily justified when religious beliefs are abused. Here are some serious irregularities as described by Gerry Cohen:

Friday News: Racist baggage check

THOMAS FARR'S NOMINATION BLOCKED BY TWO SENATE REPUBLICANS: In a brief statement explaining his decision, Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo obtained by The Washington Post this week, just days before the Senate was set to vote on Farr’s confirmation. It detailed Farr’s involvement in “ballot security” activities by the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina. Farr worked for the campaign in 1984 and represented the 1990 campaign as a lawyer. Helms’ 1990 re-election campaign against former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, who is black, included charges of voter intimidation for postcards mailed to primarily black voters warning of possible arrest at the polls. The Department of Justice investigated the voter intimidation claims and settled with the Helms campaign in a consent decree.

Burr & Tillis vote in support of journalist-killing Saudi Crown Prince

And for continuing the genocide in Yemen:

Furious over being denied a C.I.A. briefing on the killing of a Saudi journalist, senators from both parties spurned the Trump administration on Wednesday with a stinging vote to consider ending American military support for the Saudi-backed war in Yemen.

The Senate voted 63 to 37 to bring to the floor a measure to limit presidential war powers in Yemen. It was the strongest signal yet that Republican and Democratic senators alike remain vehemently skeptical of the administration’s insistence that the Saudi crown prince cannot, with certainty, be blamed for the death of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This was merely a procedural vote, indicating an interest in intervening in Trump's War Powers Act authority, but it will likely be followed next week by genuine action. The ironic (and extremely hypocritical) move by Richard Burr to vote against this centers on his role as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. In any other instance, the refusal of the CIA to cooperate would have Burr turning red in the face. But since the CIA (apparently) has overwhelming evidence of the Crown Prince's involvement in Khashoggi's brutal assassination and dismemberment, Burr simply "doesn't want to know." But luckily for us (and maybe those Yemeni children), other Senate Republicans refuse to play possum:

Thursday News: Voter ID would not have helped


ELECTION BOARD INVESTIGATOR SEIZES ABSENTEE BALLOT MATERIALS IN BLADEN: A State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement investigator seized absentee ballot envelopes and request forms from the Nov. 6 election in Bladen County, the board confirmed Wednesday. Spokesman Patrick Gannon also confirmed that the board is investigating "potential irregularities involving absentee ballots in the 9th Congressional District." The board refused Tuesday to certify results in that race. Board members were tight-lipped after their unanimous decision, but problems were suggested in the district's southeastern corner, and the board's closed-session discussions pointed toward an open investigation. Gannon confirmed the investigation Wednesday after Bladen County Board of Elections Chairman Bobby Ludlum told reporters that the state board's chief investigator seized absentee ballot envelopes from the election.

Protect Consumer Privacy

Attorney General Josh Stein has been an ardent supporter of consumer protections throughout his tenure as AG and long before in his law career. We want to encourage him to continue to fight for the rights of consumers, in particular in regards to internet privacy and security.

Coal Ash Wednesday: The world's dirtiest business continues


Running headlong into a global catastrophe:

Cheap, plentiful and the most polluting of fossil fuels, coal remains the single largest source of energy to generate electricity worldwide. This, even as renewables like solar and wind power are rapidly becoming more affordable. Soon, coal could make no financial sense for its backers. So, why is coal so hard to quit?

Because coal is a powerful incumbent. It’s there by the millions of tons under the ground. Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it. Coal plants can be a surefire way for politicians to deliver cheap electricity — and retain their own power. In some countries, it has been a glistening source of graft.

I really do hate to throw this on you right after that stunning climate report, but there's no help for it. If we don't understand the scope of the problem, we'll never be able to solve it. Our advocacy here in the United States has been, if not wildly successful, at least a sign of steady progress. Older and dirtier coal plants have been shuttered, and relatively few new ones are coming online. But unfortunately, that is not the case in many other parts of the world:


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