Thursday News: Reckless endangerment


ACTIVISTS SPEAK OUT ON BILL THAT WOULD GET RID OF PISTOL PERMITS: Under state law, handgun buyers must obtain a permit from a local sheriff and undergo a background check. But House Bill 398, which is currently in the Senate, would repeal the permit requirement. On Wednesday, Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, called the permit law the “backbone of public safety in North Carolina.” Gerald Givens Jr., president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP, said the issue should not be partisan. “This issue is not about Democrats. It’s not about Republicans,” he said. “It’s about us doing the work that we can to prevent homicides as well as suicides.” On Tuesday, Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, called the permit law “one of our most effective tools to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, felons and other dangerous people.” Bolding mine, because those are not random potential victims, they are specific targets for abusive husbands and boyfriends. We need to watch more closely, not back off.

A PROTEST TO PROTECT PROTESTERS FROM DRACONIAN RIOT BILL: On Wednesday, racial justice organizations gathered in Raleigh to protest a bill that would impose harsher penalties for people charged with rioting. House Bill 805 was introduced by House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) in May and could be voted on in the coming days. The House and Senate have yet to vote on it. Protesters want Gov. Roy Cooper to veto the measure, saying it will stifle free speech and discourage protests, including those calling for racial justice and police accountability. Supporters of the bill say it will prevent dangerous riots similar to those in downtown Raleigh last summer that followed the death of George Floyd. "These protests were by and large peaceful and centered in restorative justice," Hunt said. "These protests were in response to generations and decades of state sanctioned violence being waged against people of color." Some groups called HB 805 an "anti-Black Lives Matter bill," saying no such bill was introduced when previous, non-racial protests turned into riots.

IF YOU WANT TO SEE LIVE MUSIC, GET YOUR #$@%&^ SHOT: Concert promoter Live Nation will require all artists, crew members and fans to show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend its events starting Oct. 4. The decision comes as COVID-19 cases rise across the country. Locally Live Nation programs shows at The Ritz, Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek and Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh. The company had previously said it would allow artists performing at its venues to decide vaccination requirements for guests and staff. Last week, Motroco Music Hall in Durham started requiring vaccination proof for all attendees of scheduled shows. In addition, temperature checks will be done at the door and masks must be worn when guests are not eating or drinking. In Raleigh, Ruby Deluxe is requiring guests to provide proof of vaccination for all events. Guests must also wear masks inside. The bar announced the policy change after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

EVEN IN THE HEART OF THE PIEDMONT, INTERNET CONNECTIVITY IS HIT OR MISS: Sutton lives on a rural country road in southern Alamance County where internet cables stop just a mile and a half short of her home. For the past several years, she and her neighbors have periodically reached out to internet service providers asking them to extend access and have continuously been shot down. “The companies, especially Spectrum, basically monopolize the internet world. They don't care. They just don't want to spend the money to go run a line down country roads, because there are not enough people, not enough money to be made for the cost of running the network. But it impacts people's lives," she said. Sutton is not the only one in her household that has felt the impact. Her daughter, who finished high school in 2020, was forced to use a cell phone hotspot every day to complete her schoolwork during the pandemic. Personal hotspots like these turn your cell phone into a temporary WiFi router allowing you to connect other devices to the internet, but the service often comes with a hefty price tag. One month I was forced to use my hot-spot 3 separate times when my Spectrum went out, just to publish here at BlueNC. 3 times, about 2 hrs each time, and my phone bill went up $40. Imagine 30 days.

HAITIANS ARE SUFFERING HORRIFICALLY AFTER EARTHQUAKE IS FOLLOWED BY TROPICAL STORM: Heavy rainfall Tuesday battered temporary shelters set up since the weekend, drenching people stranded by Saturday’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Some slept out in the open. And while the sun was out Wednesday, flooding and mudslides cut off roads, blocking urgently needed aid deliveries and stalling efforts to search for those still missing or trapped beneath the rubble. Hospitals in the Tiburon Peninsula were overwhelmed, struggling to secure sufficient medical supplies, including anesthetics, or to find enough staff members to treat the badly injured. At least 24 health-care facilities were damaged, including several that were destroyed. Other hospitals, USAID said, were effectively rendered “nonfunctional” because they lacked adequate access to electricity and water. Saturday’s quake has also disrupted vaccination efforts in Haiti, where vaccine doses are limited and just 0.17 percent of people in the country of more than 11 million have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data. Officials raised the death toll Tuesday to 1,941, though that figure was expected to rise. Nearly 10,000 people were injured, according to Haiti’s civil protection agency, and more than 83,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.



Rural internet

I found a curious little bit of trivia looking through some old articles the other day.

The Raleigh News and Observer noted in September 1956 that, in North Carolina, 17 percent of farm families had telephones, while 95 percent had electric power.

I remember that my own family in rural Western NC didn't get phone lines installed in their community until 1960, even though the county seat had a phone system as early as the 1920s.

There was a big drive by the Federal government, through rural electric cooperatives, to get power to farms starting during the FDR administration and it was quite successful.

But no so much with telephone service. The county where I grew up didn't have a telphone co-op until 1950 and it took over a decade for it to finally be profitable enough to finally push out to the last homes in its service area.

The small commercial phone company in place from the 1920s to 1950 really could only serve the merchants, homes, and businesses in the two main towns in the county and still wouldn't run service out into rural areas because they couldn't see a way to turn a profit doing it.

The telephone co-op in my home town is still going strong, expanding into cable tv offerings. But it was really only able to push out rural broadband with funds from the Obama administration to bring a fiber backbone to the county and initiate broadband service to add to what they were already doing.

The county where I live now, on the other hand, had a small commercial telephone company that offered deadly slow DSL-based Internet when I moved here. They sold out to a national company, CenturyLink, that had no interest in upgrading any of the infrastructure. They still offer the same, deadly slow DSL Internet that was state of the art in the mid-90s.

Wireless Internet through cell phone services is prohibitively expensive for regular use. Satellite is another option, but it's expensive, slow, and you can't really do any kind of teleconferencing with it due to signal lag.

Time Warner cable, which became Spectrum, is the only way to get fast fiber-based Internet here. And there's still many more rural parts of the county where they just won't offer the service because they don't want to spend money running the lines.

Spectrum and CenturyLink go out of their way to lobby against Internet co-ops or any efforts to fund rural broadband. More recently, they've been part of a PAC running ads all over the place to get access to utility poles owned and maintained by co-ops to expand their business.

I have a friend in rural New Mexico. He's lived there around 15 years and his only Internet options were, until recently, a 56K modem service through his local phone company (which was recently bought out by CenturyLink) or very expensive satellite or cellular wireless.

A few years ago, the Native American reservation he lives near started a wireless co-op Internet service fed by a fiber backbone, again with funding from the Obama administration. It's expanded enough that he could subscribe. But, because of a hill blocking his view of the towers, he'll have to get a 30 foot tower with an antenna on it erected before he can use this cheaper and faster service.

The sad truth here is that the "free market" touted by the GOP has given us a situation where a service - fast Internet - is horrendously expensive compared to other countries, with "white glove" service for urban and suburban areas, unavailable to the poor and working poor, and spotty service that may or may not be maintained for surrounding rural areas.

We really have two choices. Either more regulation that forces Internet providers to offer lower prices and expanded service to a larger area or competing, government kick-started co-ops to provide Internet where commercial services are unaffordable or non-existent. But, of course, the GOP and industry lobbyists have made sure that Internet co-ops just can't get started in NC and many other states.

If we do nothing, rural areas are going to fall further behind in education, business opportunities, and healthcare.

Reliable fast Internet service has become as essential to our everyday lives as electricity or a telephone.

This could be a winning issue for Democrats, especially with the experiences of rural voters during the pandemic, and the focus by the GOP on killing people with anti-masking and anti-vax nonsense or fretting about teaching about slavery in schools.

This right here ^

We have to break that paradigm, if you'll excuse the over-used 90's biz talk.