People in Washington, D.C. will mark the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. today by gathering around the massive new, 30-feet-tall statue of the famed preacher and civil rights leader. Some people have complained about the new statue by artist Lei Yixin, saying it’s too big, or not in the right place, or the color is weird, or the artist should have been American, or an inscription is incorrect. One bizarre criticism is that the statue makes King look “too confrontational.” Never mind that the man’s whole life was devoted to direct confrontations with injustice, with a goal of making the injustice clear to all, specifically by the act of confronting it. So, long story short, those critics need to get a clue.
One thing the critics of the D.C. statue should be grateful for, though, is that at least the piece actually looks like Martin Luther King, Jr. That’s more than Charlotteans can say about the MLK statue in Marshall Park. Yes, this is our annual plea for someone — anyone — to please, please find a replacement for the Uptown statue of (supposedly) MLK Jr.
Opposition to Duke and Progress Energy’s joint rate hike request keeps growing. On Monday, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper told the N.C. Utilities Commission that the state Department of Justice is opposed to the 7.2 percent rate increase, saying this is not the time to burden struggling North Carolinians with another rate increase (Duke had an increase in 2009).
Now, as ProgressivePulse reports, NC WARN, the N.C. Justice Center, and the N.C. Housing Coalition — all liberal groups, just in case our internet trollers are slow to realize it (gentlemen, start your ranting!) — say the rate hike is a terrible idea. The groups point out that the rate hike would be unfair to residential customers, and most business customers, because the way Duke Energy determines rates gives a huge advantage (at other customers’ cost) to some of the state’s worst energy hogs. As the groups note, energy glutton companies, like Facebook and Google data centers, already get a lot of help from the state in the form of tax breaks and incentives, and will be eligible for another 20 percent discount on their 2012 bills. Here’s the key fact: “In 2010, Duke’s data center customers paid on average about 4.6 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for electricity, while residential customers paid almost 9 cents.” Now, Duke is asking to raise the main residential rate to over 10.5 cents per kWh.
As a previous ProgressivePulse headline so succinctly put it, why pay more when energy hogs don’t? Let the Utilities Commission know how you feel about Duke Energy’s unfair rate allocation by calling them at 919-733-4249.
Now that the GOP presidential primary campaign has moved to South Carolina, the mainstream media is full of stories about our ugly-sister state’s history of, shall we say, rough-edged politics. No? OK, how about we say “filthy, no-holds-barred-whatsoever, beyond-mud-slinging, completely amoral, lyin’-ass, cruel” politics? Yeah, that’s more like it.
A variety of groups that want North Carolinians to reject the Marriage Discrimination amendment in the May 2012 election are getting organized. One group, the Vote Against Project, is giving everyone who’s against the amendment a good way to take a public stand. The Vote Against Project makes its way to Charlotte on Feb. 3.
Raleigh photographer Curtis Brown organized Vote Against after becoming incensed by the harm the anti-marriage amendment's ill-conceived blast of bias would cause many couples and families in North Carolina. Brown and a crew of volunteers have kicked off a tour of the state, hoping to put together a portrait of North Carolinians who stand unified in opposition to discrimination. They are conducting free photo shoots of amendment foes, all of whom will wear shirts (provided by the group) that read “Vote Against.” The images will be posted online and no doubt shared on websites of other progressive groups and individuals. Participants are urged to share their images with everyone they know.
The time and place of the Vote Against stop in Charlotte has not been announced, but will be soon. So make plans now: Just show up, slip on the shirt, have your free picture taken, and — voila — instant activism. Strike a pose and strike a blow against mud-stupid, fearful prejudice.
Keep track of the project here, and check the CL news blog, where we’ll be posting the Charlotte location and time when we find out. Meanwhile, here’s a video explaining the whole thing:
If we’ve learned anything since last week’s Midnight Madness session of the General Assembly — which we termed a classic example of no-holds-barred, late-night, fuck-you politics — it’s that our Cornelius pal, House Speaker Thom Tillis, does not take well to criticism.
As NC Policy Watch points out, Tillis must be having trouble these days keeping up with all the media outlets he wants to hold a grudge against. He was infuriated by press gibes about his 12:45 a.m. “special” legislative session last week, and he let it be known, via Facebook, that he’s canceling his subscription to the Charlotte Observer, which he referred to as “roadkill” and “a liberal blog.”
No-holds-barred, fuck-you politics. That’s what GOP lawmakers in Raleigh dealt in and embraced late last night. All in one evening, the New Bosses took advantage of some Democratic legislators’ hospitalizations, made deals and promptly broke them, and — when they couldn’t muster enough votes in the House to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of the Racial Justice Act — seemingly snapped. That was when they adjourned. Then — contrary to the specifics of the N.C. Constitution — they called another meeting for 12:45 a.m., to attempt overrides of other Perdue vetoes, all while trying to keep Democrats from knowing what they were doing.
Those override attempts didn’t go well, so the lawmakers settled on overriding one lone veto, and reinstated a measure that forbids the state from automatically deducting N.C. Association of Educators members’ dues from their paychecks. The GOP’s stab at having their own Night of the Long Knives fell flat, and what they wound up with was more like Night of the Pen Knives.
In November, the New Bosses in the N.C. General Assembly voted to repeal the 2009 Racial Justice Act, which allows judges in death penalty cases to consider statistical evidence of historic racial bias. Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the repeal, and that’s where the issue stands as of today, when the GOP bosses get their troops organized to attempt an override of Perdue’s veto.
An override is not a forgone conclusion, as Republicans in the House would need help from some Democrats to be successful. As ace political reporter Mark Binker of the Greensboro News & Record suggests, Dems are less likely to go along with the GOP in an election year, as an override would amount to setting up the leader of the party for “a high profile slap in the face.”
Still, the state GOP, led in this case by House double-Speaker Thom Tillis, is determined to use the Racial Justice Act as part of its crusade to return North Carolina to the good ol’ days when the state could execute black men all day long without having to hear some whiny liberals wailing about a sissy notion like “justice.” Tillis & Co. are nothing if not confident, seemingly willing to throw away whatever African American votes they might have gotten in November, as well as the votes of independents who may not trust Democrats but don’t want to vote for obvious racists, either.
BlueNC’s James Protzman has created a new text-to-video piece featuring “Thom Tillis,” giving the lowdown on the veto override battle. Watch and enjoy:
In June, CL wrote about fracking and urged state government to continue the ban on the practice in North Carolina. We had good reasons then, but now Ohio has provided what has to be the best reason yet: it apparently can cause earthquakes.
"Fracking” is short for hydro-fracking, the controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale rock formations by forcibly shooting a toxic mix of chemicals, water and sand into rock formations. The main problems with fracking were 1) it uses millions of gallons of water, which can hurt local water supplies that have to be detoxified later; 2) huge amounts of radioactive material have been found in water supplies near fracking sites; and 3) it can open fractures to freshwater formations and wreak havoc on local water supplies. Large numbers of wells tainted by methane have been reported, as well as major accidents — including a well blowout in Pennsylvania that churned out toxic water and gas for 16 hours. The state levied a $400,000 fine against the companies responsible. People near fracking sites complain of oily-tasting water coming from their taps, and videos of people lighting their tap water on fire are all over the Internet.
And now earthquakes. On Friday, near Youngstown, OH, where fracking has been going on, a number of small earthquakes in quick succession have scared hell out of residents and state officials. The Ohio Natural Resources Department shut down the nearest fluid-injection well, and have now indefinitely postponed opening four other planned wells, until it can figure out if fracking led to the earthquakes.
In North Carolina, gas companies are buying up land in the central area of the state where shale deposits are located, even though, for now, fracking is illegal here. Let the governor know how you feel about fracking in N.C. — and how you feel about man-made earthquakes, for that matter. The phone number for the governor’s Charlotte office is (704) 330-5290; her e-mail address is [email protected]
Meanwhile, check out this great video about fracking, titled "My Water's On Fire Tonight."
Last week, we wrote that the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to block South Carolina’s recently passed voter ID law was probably good news for North Carolina’s voting-rights advocates. Now Bob Hall, director of Democracy North Carolina, writes in a column in the Elizabeth City Daily Advance that supporters of a N.C. voter ID bill may as well not bother, since “the racial gap of a photo ID requirement is even larger in North Carolina” than was the case in S.C. Hall’s word carries some weight in N.C. political matters; Democracy North Carolina is the outfit that exposed both Democrat Jim Black’s crooked dealings and Republican Art Pope’s $40 million campaign to take over the state legislature.
The Justice Department rejected S.C.’s voter ID law because the state’s own statistics revealed that the photo ID requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents. A Democracy North Carolina analysis of N.C. state records found that African Americans are twice as likely as whites not to have an N.C. photo ID, which, says Hall, is “a much greater racial disparity than found in South Carolina,” and “suggests that the NC legislation would also run into trouble [from a federal review]."
A few years ago, Creative Loafing ran a cover story on the “new, young hotties of NASCAR,” featuring a profile and cover shot of driver Kasey Kahne (pronounced “Cane”). I was editor at that time, and so it’s my duty today to apologize for ever having given publicity to someone as obviously prone to douchebaggery as Kahne proved himself to be on Tuesday, when he went tweet crazy.
Kahne tweeted that he saw a mom breastfeeding in a supermarket, and that he found it “nasty.” He also tweeted, “I don’t feel like shopping anymore or eating.” The comments caused a shitstorm of replies to Kahne, including this woman's observation: “I hope someday you have a kid and someone tells your wife that feeding your child looks nasty.” Kahne The Charmer dug himself deeper into the mire, replying, “And your [sic] a dumb bitch.”
Today, Kahne is apologizing big time and all over the map, “explaining” that, of course, women have a right to breastfeed and I was out of line, blah-blah-blah, and other my-publicist-is-making-me-say-this kind of things. To which this writer says, “Grow up, you sad, hung-up jerk. The culture went through the debate on public breastfeeding some time ago, and your sixth-grade comments show how narrow your little world really is, notwithstanding your success at driving fast and turning left."
To sort-of quote the late, great Amy Winehouse, “What kind of assholery is this?”
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