Tuesday News: The house is on fire


NC FARMERS GIVE PERDUE AN EARFUL OVER TRUMP'S TRADE WARS: In a pair of question-and-answer sessions, Secretary Sonny Perdue heard from farmers who are frustrated and trending toward desperate with weeks to go before new crops go into the ground. A trade war has stopped the flow of tobacco to China, once the crop's No. 1 buyer. Trade deals with Mexico and Canada have been reworked, but their approval depends on Congress. A pair of hurricanes devastated crops across this part of the state two out of the last three years. "It's the most critical time I've seen in agriculture, and I started farming in 1975," Jerome Vick told Perdue. Take this message back to Washington, Vick said: "This is not just a bump in the road. In eastern North Carolina, the house is on fire." Take this one back, too, Brent Leggett said, reading a text message from his 12-year-old son, Colin: "Tell (Perdue) to tell Trump to make a deal with China."

LATINO ADVOCACY GROUPS CREATE LEGAL FUNDS FOR THOSE ARRESTED BY ICE: Two Latino advocacy groups have created a legal fund for the families of undocumented residents who were arrested by federal immigration officials across North Carolina last week. El Hispano Centro in Durham and The Hispanic Liaison in Siler City announced Monday that they have created the “Liberation Not Deportation Regional Fund.” The groups hope to raise $30,000 in 30 days and say the money will be used to pay the legal fees for families affected by arrests in Durham, Orange, Chatham, Lee, Randolph and Wake counties. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday that 200 people were arrested throughout the state last week. Another 25 were arrested in an unrelated raid on an arms manufacturing plant in Sanford. The arrests were a result of North Carolina’s largest counties ending partnerships with ICE, said Sean Gallagher, who oversees the agency’s operation in the Carolinas and Georgia.

MOVEMENT TO PRIVATIZE LIQUOR SALES IN NC NOT HOPEFUL: North Carolina has had a monopoly on liquor sales in the state since Prohibition ended more than 85 years ago. Although lawmakers have talked for years about getting out of the business and turning sales over to the private sector, a new report by the legislature's Program Evaluation Division stopped short of recommending that path. Virginia and Pennsylvania are the only other two states in the country where state and local governments control all wholesale and retail alcohol sales. The goal of control is to create revenue and reduce consumption of liquor, and it's working pretty well, according to the PED report released Monday. North Carolina makes more revenue per gallon than any other Southeast state, despite having the fewest liquor stores per capita – just 428 stores statewide. It also has the second-lowest consumption of liquor in the region.

BUDGET DEAL GIVES TRUMP $1.4 BILLION FOR WALL, MINOR CONCESSIONS FOR DEMS: Congressional negotiators reached agreement to prevent a government shutdown and finance construction of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, overcoming a late-stage hang-up over immigration enforcement issues that had threatened to scuttle the talks. Republicans were desperate to avoid another bruising shutdown. They tentatively agreed Monday night to far less money for President Donald Trump’s border wall than the White House’s $5.7 billion wish list, settling for a figure of nearly $1.4 billion, according to congressional aides. The funding measure is through the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The agreement means 55 miles of new fencing — constructed through existing designs such as metal slats instead of a concrete wall — but far less than the 215 miles the White House demanded in December. The fencing would be built in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The pact also includes increases for new technologies such as advanced screening at border entry points, humanitarian aid sought by Democrats, and additional customs officers.

IN SUMMER OF 2016, TRUMP CAMPAIGN HAD TALKS WITH MOSCOW ABOUT ENDING SANCTIONS OVER UKRAINE: A closer look at the transcript, released late Thursday, shows that the prosecutors have been keenly focused on discussions the two men had about a plan to end the conflict that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. Persuading the United States to ease or end the American-led sanctions imposed to punish Moscow for its aggression has been a primary goal of Russian foreign policy. According to the transcript, which was heavily redacted, Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik repeatedly communicated about a so-called peace plan for Ukraine starting in early August 2016, while Mr. Manafort was still running Mr. Trump’s campaign, and continuing into 2018, months after Mr. Manafort had been charged by the special counsel’s office with a litany of crimes related to his work in the country. The prosecutors claim that Mr. Manafort misled them about those talks and other interactions with Mr. Kilimnik. “This goes to the larger view of what we think is going on, and what we think is the motive here,” Mr. Weissmann said. “This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating.”



Farm bankruptcies ...

... are setting records because of Trumputin's absolutely dumb policies.

Twice as many farmers in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin declared bankruptcy last year compared to 2008, according to statistics from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Journal reported. Bankruptcies in states from North Dakota to Arkansas leaped 96 percent, according to figures from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. ...

According to figures from the U.S. Agriculture Department, farm income last year was about 50 percent of what it was in 2013, the Wisconsin State Farmer reported.

I was actually planning to take a trip

late last year, down East to some of the NC farms (particularly soybeans) and do some interviews for a blog, but then the hurricane hit. They lost so much of their crops due to flooding I figured they wouldn't be ripe for conversations about tariffs and such. Might be time to revisit that idea.