Wednesday News: Voting matters


DEMOCRACY NC REPORT: 100 MUNICIPAL RACES WON BY JUST A FEW VOTES (OR ONE): A study from nonpartisan voting rights advocacy group Democracy North Carolina shows that just a handful of votes – or in some cases, a single vote – can determine who wins or loses, especially in odd-year municipal elections. Democracy North Carolina has been one of the most active groups in lawsuits and other actions opposing voter ID and other Republican-led election changes, and it also addresses issues of money in politics. It sometimes partners with the North Carolina NAACP. Democracy North Carolina analyzed November 2015 elections in the state and determined that the mayor or a town council member in 69 cities won their election by five or fewer votes.

SEIZED VEHICLE CONTRACTORS PUSH BACK AFTER AUDIT: State contractors stung last month by an audit into allegedly missing seized vehicles pushed back hard against that report Tuesday, accusing the Office of the State Auditor of either shoddy work or ulterior motives. Not only are all 234 vehicles accounted for, attorneys representing the businesses said, state auditors had records on 181 of them in hand for months before issuing their "erroneous report." Investigators, attorney Sandy Sands said, failed to follow up, and State Auditor Beth Wood put out "false and defamatory" statements suggesting the cars could have been stolen. Wood's office stood by its report in its own statement late Tuesday afternoon. She said any claim that all vehicles are accounted for is "premature." Her office referred this case to the Department of Motor Vehicles License and Theft Bureau for more investigation, and that inquiry is ongoing.

TRUMP'S EPA BACKS OFF ON REVIEWS OF ASBESTOS AND OTHER DANGEROUS PRODUCTS: Spurred by the chemical industry, President Donald Trump's administration is retreating from a congressionally mandated review of some of the most dangerous chemicals in public use: millions of tons of asbestos, flame retardants and other toxins in homes, offices and industrial plants across the United States. Instead of following President Barack Obama's proposal to look at chemicals already in widespread use that result in some of the most common exposures, the new administration wants to limit the review to products still being manufactured and entering the marketplace. Asbestos fibers can become deadly when disturbed in a fire or during remodeling, lodging in the lungs and causing problems including mesothelioma, a form of cancer. The material's dangers have long been recognized. But a 1989 attempt to ban most asbestos products was overturned by a federal court, and it remains in widespread use.
Read more here:

NATIVE AMERICAN ARRESTED DURING DAKOTA ACCESS PROTEST USES "NECESSITY" DEFENSE: An American Indian activist and former U.S. congressional candidate in North Dakota accused of inciting a riot during protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline says he'll seek to present a "necessity defense" — justifying a crime by arguing it prevented a greater harm. Chase Iron Eyes has pleaded not guilty to inciting a riot and criminal trespassing. He could face more than five years in prison if convicted at trial in February. The pipeline has since begun carrying oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois. Pipeline protesters who try the necessity defense typically argue that the greater harm is climate change. Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, says he hopes to show that civil disobedience was his only option to resist a pipeline's incursion on his ancestral lands.

COURT WILL ALLOW 17 YEAR OLD IMMIGRANT GIRL IN DETENTION TO GET ABORTION: A U.S. appeals court has cleared the way for a 17-year-old immigrant held in federal custody to obtain an abortion. The ruling Tuesday by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overruled a decision by a three-judge panel of the court that at least temporarily blocked the teen from having the procedure. The panel ruled Friday that the government should get more time to try to release the teen, who is being held in a Texas facility, so she could obtain the abortion outside government custody. The panel ruled 2-1 that the government should have until Oct. 31 to release the girl into the custody of a so-called sponsor, such as an adult relative in the U.S. The teen could then obtain the procedure.