Monday News: Southern discomfort

ARMED CONFEDERATE FLAG SUPPORTERS IN PITTSBORO OUTNUMBERED BY ANTI-RACISTS: Among the groups represented were Heirs to the Confederacy, ACTBAC, CSA II, the Virginia Flaggers and the Hiwaymen, an Arkansas-based group that flocks to far-right events such as Unite the Right in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one counterprotester dead. Under an array of flags, they grilled hot dogs and played country music. About 200 members of antiracist and progressive groups held signs and waved flags on the other side of the road. The group included liberals as well as people further left on the political spectrum, a coalition that was sometimes prickly. Pittsboro locals were joined by people from Hillsborough, Durham and Charlottesville, some of whom also protested Silent Sam, the Confederate monument at UNC-Chapel Hill that activists brought down last year. Saturday’s event was the latest in a series of face-offs in Pittsboro that has left many locals feeling weary. The county commissioners plan to declare the statue public trespass by Nov. 1, making it eligible for removal, The News & Observer has reported.

REPUBLICANS COME BACK FOR FINAL 10 DAYS OF SESSION, BUDGET IMPASSE CONTINUES: The North Carolina General Assembly could soon be done wrestling with legislation this year, but that doesn't mean they'll pin down a broad budget law or path forward on Medicaid expansion. Lawmakers return Monday following a roughly 10-day break. Senate leader Phil Berger said his chamber will be done with regular business by Oct. 31. House Speaker Tim Moore hasn't committed publicly to that date, but it's clear the end is near. This year's session began nine months ago and by tradition was supposed to finish in July. Now a budget stalemate between Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper lasted all summer and into fall. GOP lawmakers lack veto-proof majorities but wouldn't concede. Republicans still have decisions on several other bills or vetoes unrelated to the budget.

PRIVATE ELECTRICITY COMPANIES IN TEXAS ARE KILLING CUSTOMERS WHO CAN'T PAY: A GateHouse Media analysis of 320 medical examiner reports across the state, obtained through Texas Public Information Act requests, shows that more than 100 Texans died of heat-related causes inside their homes over the past decade. Many were rationing their electricity in an attempt to avoid massive summertime bills. As Texans fell ill and died, state regulators and lawmakers failed to provide relief, turning a blind eye to skyrocketing summertime disconnections carried out by private electricity companies and chipping away at protections for low-income customers. The six-month GateHouse Media/American-Statesman investigation found: Among the two-thirds of Texans who receive power from private companies, summertime disconnections for nonpayment soared 117% from 2009 to 2018. An internal tally of summertime disconnections, obtained through a Texas Public Information Act request, shows private electricity providers shut off power nearly 4.4 million times during the summer months from 2014 to 2018. More than 1,100 informal complaints filed with regulators about disconnections from 2015 to 2018 show summertime shutoffs have hit legions of vulnerable Texans, including those with medical problems, small children and elderly people.

TRUMP GIVES UP ON DORAL G7 GAMBIT AFTER REPUBLICANS COMPLAIN: In a round of phone calls with conservative allies this weekend, Trump was told Republicans are struggling to defend him on so many fronts, according to an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. Democrats, meanwhile, continued to blast Trump for awarding the massive government contract to his own company and said they might add the alleged “emoluments” violation to the articles of impeachment they are preparing. The White House has been struggling to explain Trump’s G-7 decision since it was announced Thursday. The president’s opponents quickly seized on it as another example of Trump abusing his office for personal gain. Even many Republicans seemed reluctant to offer political cover. Trump blamed his G-7 reversal on critics, saying on Twitter that his decision to scrap plans for a summit at the Doral club was “based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility.” But behind closed doors, several aides and allies said, Trump changed his mind in response to pressure and frustration from his own party.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU IS BATTLING TO STAY IN OFFICE AMIDST ACCUSATIONS OF HYPOCRISY: The racist caricatures were damaging enough, but for Mr. Trudeau they also seemed to validate a troubling critique of his character: His critics have long said his liberal image was merely a politically expedient veneer. He is an environmentalist, who, they point out, bought a pipeline. He is a self-declared feminist who was accused of bullying his own female attorney general. “He’s a hypocrite,” said Ève Gaboury, 19, who studies environmental geography at Université de Montréal. She said she could forgive the blackface, but never the pipeline. Earlier in his tenure he had used 4.5 billion Canadian dollars in government money, or about $3.4 billion, to buy a pipeline connecting Alberta’s oil sands to the Pacific Coast. The purchase riled many environmentalists, who said he was more concerned about Canada’s energy industry than about the environment.



Blush is off the rose?

If I were to poll my Facebook friends right now (not going to do it) about whether or how much they like Trudeau, it would be off the charts. Especially in comparison to Trump, he's been like night and day. But how much do any of us really know? I try to stay up-to-date on environmental stuff, and not just domestic, either. But I did not know about the Tar Sands Pipeline thing.

I was aware of the blackface, but not that he did it when he was 29 years old. He's only 47, so that happened in like 2001 or so. WTAF...