ROBINSON HAS RAISED ONE AND A HALF MILLION FOR GOVERNOR RACE: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson raised more than $1.5 million over the six-month period, then shuffled his staff to more of a campaign footing. Robinson, a Republican in his first elected office, also spent heavily, building up a fundraising infrastructure to pull in small-dollar donations from across the country. He did well with large donors, too. Nearly 50 people gave his campaign the state maximum of $5,600. "That is the beginning of a runaway freight train,” said Republican political consultant Jim Blaine, who’s not part of the Robinson campaign. “He is going to raise more money than any Republican state official has ever raised." Robinson spent heavily on lists, building a Rolodex of donors he can hit up for money. He was both the top fundraiser and the top spender in state-level politics, based on a WRAL analysis of campaign finances for the last six months of 2021. Let them throw their money away, the 2022 Election is (or should be) the focus.
CHAPEL HILL IS DANGEROUS FOR PEDESTRIANS, APPARENTLY: Council members spent nearly two hours Wednesday getting an update from staff and hearing from residents concerned about several crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists since Dec. 31. Last year, 16 of 24 pedestrians hit by cars were in marked crosswalks. Since January, police have held 22 crosswalk enforcement operations, Chief Chris Blue noted. Three drivers were cited for failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, one for driving more than 30 mph over the speed limit, and one for careless and reckless driving. The hope, he said, is that increased enforcement, significant fines and potential liability will change some drivers’ behaviors. Residents asked the town to do more, including to create a local anti-dooring law that would penalize drivers who fail to look for bikes and other cars before getting out of their parked cars. An anti-dooring petition submitted this week was prompted by a fatal Jan. 25 crash on West Franklin Street, in which a cyclist was thrown to the street when a driver opened his car door. When I was in the Army I rode a motorcycle every day for 5 years or so, and I can tell you that (way) too many drivers don't look, and don't care even when they see you. I came to expect it, which is why I'm still alive.
EDENTON JOINS OTHER TOWNS IN REMOVING CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS: A North Carolina town council has unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the removal of a Confederate monument. The Edenton Town Council voted to have the monument taken from the town waterfront, The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City reported. The resolution says the council intends to relocate the monument to a site within the city limits, but doesn't specify where the monument will be located. The vote on Tuesday comes 18 months after the town’s human relations commission began studying what to do with the century-old monument, which was installed on the courthouse green in 1910 before being moved to the town’s waterfront in the early 1960s. A letter written to the council suggested replacing the monument with a monument honoring Harriet Jacobs, who was born a slave in Edenton and who escaped in 1842, according to the New Bedford Historical Society web page. She wrote an autobiography, “Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl," and also did relief work in Savannah, Georgia, and in Edenton after the Civil War. Yes, do that. Black history is more important than ever right now, since so many are trying to erase it (again).
CANADA IS GETTING TIRED OF ANTI-VAXX TRUCKERS: Police in Ottawa are warning that any protesters blocking streets for the self-described “Freedom Convoy” may be “arrested without a warrant,” as raucous protests against vaccine mandates and coronavirus restrictions blocked a third border crossing with the United States early Thursday. The protests, which have led to at least 23 arrests and 80 criminal investigations in the capital, are sparking debate among officials over how best to de-escalate the situation there and at U.S.-Canada border crossings, where blockades have disrupted the flow of goods and people. Some are warning that mass arrests could prove counterproductive or even lead to violence. Early Thursday, a convoy of trucks with passengers shouting “Freedom!” and “Fake news!” descended on Ottawa International Airport, causing traffic disruptions and delays. Soon afterward, police in Manitoba province said the typically bustling Emerson crossing into North Dakota was “shut down” after a convoy of vehicles and farm equipment blocked traffic heading both north and south. “It is a criminal offence to obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property,” Ottawa police said in a news release issued Wednesday. “You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you may face charges,” the police department told protesters. Lock 'em up, every single one. It's out of control.
CORONAL MASS EJECTIONS KNOCKED 40 BRAND NEW SATELLITES OUT OF INTENDED ORBITS: SpaceX launched 49 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit last week, with plans to eventually bring them up to higher altitudes. But due to a geomagnetic storm on Friday, up to 40 of the 49 satellites are falling out of their intended orbit. On Friday, the sun’s surface erupted with outbursts of charged particles called “coronal mass ejections.” Those particles made it harder for the satellites, which were planned to provide internet access, to maintain their orbits. In a statement on Tuesday, SpaceX said “the escalation speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50 percent higher than during previous launches.” The geomagnetic storm itself “was by no means a big event”—it happened at “just the wrong time,” Bill Murtagh, the program coordinator at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center told Space.com. “That is a drag,” he added. By design the satellites will burn up as they return to Earth, posing no risk to people or other satellites. “Up to 40 of the satellites will re-enter or already have reentered the Earth’s atmosphere,” SpaceX said in a statement on Tuesday. Friday’s solar storm is a sign of what is to come in the next few years. The sun operates on 11-year cycles, going between periods of calm and periods of intense storms. We’re currently in a milder phase of the sun’s activity, but events like solar flares and coronal mass ejections will ramp up, likely peaking around 2025. During “solar maximum,” storms like this recent one will occur hundreds of times over just a few years. That's just fantastic. You know, you can fit 1.4 million Earths into the volume of space that Sol takes up. 93 million miles might seem like a goodly distance, but...