TILLIS AND BURR, SHOW YOU STAND WITH NC, NOT THE NRA: Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis need to let the North Carolinians know who ranks at the top of their priority list. Is it the 10.3 million residents or 6.7 million registered voters in the state? Is it the $6.9 million the National Rifle Association donated to Burr’s campaigns? Is it the $4.4 million the NRA donated to Tillis’ campaigns? If their priority is the people of the state they represent, they must be in the forefront of demanding the U.S. Senate take up and pass two bills the House of Representatives passed last February – the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act. There has been NO Senate activity on the bills. Additionally, they should be leading voices for adoption of “red-flag" laws that allow public safety officials and family members, following due process and a court order, to temporarily prevent firearm possession by a person who is a threat to themselves or others.
NORTH CAROLINA'S GROWING ANTI-VAXXER PROBLEM: North Carolina lawmakers have certainly been unafraid in recent years to take on controversial issues — and each other. But they’ve been strikingly timid in the face of a small but vocal group: anti-vaxxer parents who flood their inboxes and mailboxes when the legislature considers measures to tighten vaccination rules. The result is a growing problem in our state. A report this week by North Carolina Public Radio/WUNC shows that the number of unvaccinated children in our state has increased steadily and alarmingly in the past half-dozen years. Most of that growth has come from parents claiming a religious exemption — a common way to get around N.C. law requiring all students who attend schools to be vaccinated for measles, mumps and other diseases. Unlike medical exemptions to vaccinations, which require a note from a doctor, claiming a religious exemption is easy. Parents only have to supply the name and date of birth of the child to be exempted. No explanation of the religious objection — or even evidence of religious affiliation or faith — is required.
THE GREAT WESTERN PUBLIC LAND ROBBERY: The gallery of awful human beings, monumental incompetents, wife-beaters, frauds and outright criminals appointed to high positions in the Trump administration is large and varied. As wanted posters, they would fill an entire post office wall. But you have to go pretty deep into the ranks of the Worst People to find someone equal to the man Donald Trump has now put in charge of your public lands — William Perry Pendley. This is another Onion headline that writes itself: Trump’s pick for public lands doesn’t believe in public lands. The man now overseeing 248 million acres owned by every American citizen is a mad-dog opponent of the very idea of shared space in the great outdoors. He has spent his professional life chipping away — in court, in public forums, in statehouses — at one of the most cherished of American birthrights. Pendley spent decades suing the government for trying to protect fish and wildlife and clean water. “The Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold,” he wrote in 2016. He’s also expressed sympathy for the deadbeat rancher Cliven Bundy, a hero of anti-public land terrorists. And he’s mocked Native American religious claims to sacred sites.
ANOTHER THREAT TO ENDANGERED SPECIES: THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross claimed that the idea is “easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals.” That sounds plausible, in theory. Given this administration’s shabby hostility toward science and expertise, it is more than worrisome in practice. Chief among environmentalists’ worries is that the federal government will begin conducting economic analysis as it determines whether to designate species as threatened or endangered. The Environmental Defense Fund’s Holly Pearen likened this to taking economic considerations into account when diagnosing a heart attack. Economic trade-offs might be relevant in shaping a plan to protect a species, but they should have no bearing on the analysis of whether a species is endangered. The Interior Department insists that listing decisions will be made based on science, not economics. So then why waste resources on economic analysis during the listing process?
WITH TRUMP AS PRESIDENT, THE WORLD IS SPIRALING INTO CHAOS: All over the world, things are getting worse. China appears to be weighing a Tiananmen Square-like crackdown in Hong Kong. After I spoke to Khan, hostilities between India and Pakistan ratcheted up further; on Thursday, fighting across the border in Kashmir left three Pakistani soldiers dead. (Pakistan also claimed that five Indian soldiers were killed, but India denied it.) Turkey is threatening to invade Northeast Syria to go after America’s Kurdish allies there, and it’s not clear if an American agreement meant to prevent such an incursion will hold. North Korea’s nuclear program and ballistic missile testing continue apace. The prospect of a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine is more remote than it’s been in decades. Tensions between America and Iran keep escalating. Relations between Japan and South Korea have broken down. A Pentagon report warns that ISIS is “re-surging” in Syria. The U.K. could see food shortages if the country’s Trumpish prime minister, Boris Johnson, follows through on his promise to crash out of the European Union without an agreement in place for the aftermath. Oh, and the globe may be lurching towards recession.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
ELLIE KINNAIRD: HELP SMALL TOWNS, DON'T LET THEM FAIL: Regarding “State takes control of town drowning in sewage bills,” (Aug. 9): It is a sad state when the stewardship of our small towns is left to fail by the legislature. When Marc Basnight was leader of the N.C. Senate, he led the way to helping these small communities which don’t have the tax base to maintain their sewer and water systems. The Democratic legislature passed the Clean Water Management Trust Fund of $100 million annually in the N.C. budget to help these small communities bring their systems up to standards so they could provide safe water and sewer delivery to residents. Sadly, the Republican legislature slashed the program and towns like Eureka are suffering from that neglect.
JIM WARREN: IT'S TIME TO WITHDRAW THE PERMIT FOR ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE: NC WARN stands by our allies charging that Duke Energy and Dominion cut corners so much in planning the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the state water permit must be withdrawn. As for claims that the pipeline will spur economic development, this is a cruel hoax played on the politicians and public. In June we provided Gov. Roy Cooper with federal documents showing that Duke Energy and Dominion never planned to make gas available for industry along the eight-county route. The gas is intended for Duke’s power plants, with no delivery points for new industry. Duke has not and cannot rebut our analysis, which also shows that, if ever completed, the stalled pipeline would cost North Carolinians over $20 billion due to ongoing cost overruns, make energy bills soar, and help lock-in Duke’s climate-wrecking expansion of fracked gas.
JUDITH PULLEY: IT'S MISGUIDED TO FOCUS ON MENTAL HEALTH IN GUN DEBATE: Once again, Donald Trump and the gun lobby have attributed recent massacres to mental illness. But most studies of mass shooters have found only a small fraction have mental health issues. Let us assume for a moment that mental health is the issue. How are those who suffer from mental health and are potential mass murderers to be identified and forced to seek treatment? When classmates or neighbors of mass murderers are asked to describe them, most are astonished and the most they can say is that he was “quiet” or a “loner.” Are we to require all quiet loners to seek treatment? Isn’t it a saner solution to just stop the sale of assault weapons?