NC Senate bill would make childhood vaccinations mandatory

North Carolina parents could no longer claim a religious exemption to having their children vaccinated against disease under a bill introduced Thursday in the state Senate.

Senate Bill 346 would repeal a law that exempts children from vaccinations if their parents or guardians object for “bona fide religious beliefs.”

“The intent is not to violate religious freedom in any way, shape or form,” Sen. Jeff Tarte said at a news conference. “(But) your rights stop at the point you start impinging on anybody else’s rights.”

Pope Francis pushes for action on Climate Change

In a few weeks, Pope Francis will visit the Philippine city of Tacloban, which was devastated by super Typhoon Haiyan in 2012. Shortly thereafter, according to the Guardian, he is expected to present an encyclical on climate change, “urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds.”

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U.S. Last in Tech Buying

WASHINGTON — Four years after President Obama vowed to “dramatically reform the way we do business on contracts,” the spectacular failure of the website has renewed calls for changes in how the government hires and manages private technology companies.

But despite Mr. Obama’s promises in the last two months to “leap into the 21st century,” there is little evidence that the administration is moving quickly to pursue an overhaul of the current system in the coming year.

Outside experts, members of Congress, technology executives and former government officials say the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s website is the nearly inevitable result of a procurement process that stifles innovation and wastes taxpayer dollars. The Air Force last year scrapped a $1 billion supply management system. Officials abandoned a new F.B.I. system after spending $170 million on it. And a $438 million air traffic control systems update, a critical part of a $45 billion nationwide upgrade that is years behind schedule, is expected to go at least $270 million over budget.

Longstanding laws intended to prevent corruption and conflict of interest often saddle agencies with vendors selected by distant committees and contracts that stretch for years, even as technology changes rapidly. The rules frequently leave the government officials in charge of a project with little choice over their suppliers, little control over the project’s execution and almost no authority to terminate a contract that is failing.

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House Passes Health Insurance Bill

WASHINGTON — Defying a veto threat from President Obama, the House on Friday approved legislation that would allow health insurance companies to renew individual insurance policies and sell similar policies to new customers next year even if the coverage does not provide all the benefits and consumer protections required by the new health care law.
The vote was 261 to 157, with 39 Democrats bucking their party leadership to vote in favor of the bill.
The legislation would go further than the fix announced on Thursday by Mr. Obama, who said he would temporarily waive some requirements of the law and allow insurers to renew “current policies for current enrollees.”
Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan and the chief sponsor of the House bill, said his legislation would fulfill a promise that Mr. Obama had made to the American people and then broken.


U.S. Airways and American Airlines Reach Merger Deal


US Airways and American Airlines on Tuesday announced they’ve reached a deal with the Justice Department to let their merger proceed, clearing the way for a $17.2-billion merger that will make Charlotte Douglas International the second-busiest hub in the world’s biggest airline.

Charlotte could see more flights as a result of being part of a bigger route network, executives said. But consumer advocates also warned that ticket prices could rise, as fewer carriers means less competition on many routes.

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NY Top Court To Look Into Free Press.

The fate of a journalist rests in the hands of New York’s top court, which is slated to begin deciding within hours whether she must go to Colorado and face possible jail if she refuses to reveal the source of a bombshell report on Aurora, Colo., gunman James Holmes.

Winter, who broke the story revealing that Holmes had sent a psychiatrist a notebook before going on a July, 2012, rampage that left 12 dead and dozens injured, is set to appear Tuesday afternoon before the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany. Winter and her legal team are hoping New York’s strong protections for journalists will prompt the judicial panel to quash a subpoena issued by a lower court that required Winter to take the stand in Colorado.

Winter is also asking the New York high court to recognize the damage the subpoena is causing her career as an investigative journalist. Winter, who has steadfastly protected her sources on the story, could face jail time in Colorado if she is ordered to reveal her sources and refuses.


Sales Tax For N.C. State Fair Could Be In Jeopardy.


RALEIGH — State lawmakers are considering ending the sales tax exemption for tickets to the State Fair, youth athletic contests and some nonprofit events.

The measure is tucked inside draft legislation designed to make fixes to the massive tax overhaul approved earlier this year. Republican lawmakers leading the effort Tuesday said ending the exemptions is necessary to make the tax code simpler.

Under the draft bill, admission tickets to agricultural fairs, youth sports, state museums and attractions and some events organized by nonprofits would be subject to the 4.75 percent state sales tax.

The sweeping tax measure approved by state lawmakers in July added sales tax to live entertainment, movies and amusement tickets but left these four categories exempt from the sales tax.

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Congress Hits An All Time Low.

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On Tuesday, Gallup announced that Congress had reached a new low, winning the approval of just 9% of the American public. This breaks Congress’ record nadir from last year, when the amount of Americans who thought lawmakers were doing a good job dipped to 10%.

Gallup has been asking Americans how they feel about how Congress is handling its work for 39 years, and the average approval rating since 1974 is 33%. Affirmation hit its high in 2001, following the September 11 attacks, at 56%. As to why approval ratings now equal the number of letters in Harry Reid’s name, pollsters said that “Americans’ views of Congress have not recovered” from the government shutdown. Even with all the media focus on Obamacare snafus, they note, lawmakers couldn’t sneak out of the doghouse.

Read more: The 9%: Congress’ Approval Rating Hits the Single Digits |

Baby Boom In Some States Signal Strong Birth Recovery

Doctors at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, delivered more than 200 babies in August, a record for a single month, and are on pace for their busiest year ever.

“We’ve got babies coming out of our ears,” said obstetrician Kim McKay. “We’ve seen a baby boom.”
Rising fertility rates in states such as South Dakota, where unemployment is 3.8 percent, are prompting some demographers and economists to predict a reversal of the nationwide decline in fertility that coincided with the recession and its aftermath. More births would boost the economy by spurring demand for new homes and goods from pregnancy tests and diapers to furniture and cars.
“The higher birth rates in stronger-state economies are a good leading indicator for the rest of the country,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “There could even be a spurt of births sometime around mid-decade given that many young households have been putting off marriage and having children.”
Besides South Dakota, 18 other states, including Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, Texas and Ohio had 2012 fertility rates higher than recession lows, according to an analysis by Daniel Schneider, a scholar in health policy research at the University of California at Berkeley.
The jobless rate in those 19 states averaged 6.1 percent in August compared with a national level more than a percentage point higher.


Patrick Cannon Becomes the Next Mayor of Charlotte.


Democrat Patrick Cannon, who rose from public housing to successful careers in business and politics, won his “life goal” Tuesday night, defeating Republican Edwin Peacock to become Charlotte’s next mayor.

Riding solid support in east, west and north Charlotte, Cannon won 53.02 percent to 46.78 percent. Countywide turnout was just under 18 percent.

Moments after taking a concession call from Peacock around 10 p.m., Cannon stepped on stage in front of jubilant supporters at the Sheraton Hotel, where he was introduced by the city’s first African American mayor, Democrat Harvey Gantt.

“I am happy, but … I am so humbled,” Cannon said to chants of “Patrick! Patrick!” “This didn’t have to be, but you made it so…. I am realizing a life goal.”

Cannon, 46, will succeed Democrat Patsy Kinsey, who was appointed in July when former Mayor Anthony Foxx became U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Cannon went into Election Day with a solid head-start. He won 65 percent of the early vote, for a 5,481-vote cushion. He also benefited from an 11,600-vote margin in Democratic straight-party ballots.

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Kraft recalls string cheese that may spoil early

Kraft Foods Group Inc. is voluntarily recalling some of its Kraft and Polly-O string cheese because they may spoil and change color before the expiration date on the packages.

The Northfield, Ill., company said Friday that about 735,000 cases of the affected products were shipped to customers in the U.S. They have “Best When Used By” dates from Oct. 25 through Feb. 11.

Kraft says it issued the recall after receiving several reports from consumers about cheese going bad. The company has ceased the production and distribution of the affected products and is investigating the problem. The affected products were made in a plant in Campbell, N.Y.

Consumers should not eat the recalled product and should return it for an exchange or refund.

For more information, contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations at 1-800-816-9432 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern.

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Committee to meet to decide if CRB should change operations

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Monday morning, community activists in Charlotte will argue for changes to the city’s Citizen Review Board.

They said it needs power to hold Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department accountable for wrongdoing on the job.

They told Eyewitness News that Monday is crucial for their plight.

The meeting will be held at the Government Center.

There could be two outcomes – the recommendations to change how the CRB operates move on to the final phase of approval, or the groups urging change start all over.

After months of meetings and protests, the work of the advocates for change comes down to what a committee decides.

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Tuition up 2% at Catawba College for 2014-15

SALISBURY – Catawba College students will see only a two percent increase in tuition and room costs for the 2014-2015 academic year. However, a new state of North Carolina law that takes effect January 1, 2014 mandates that colleges and universities collect sales tax on student meals.* This caused a higher than expected increase in Catawba’s board fees for ’14-’15; board costs will increase by 5.7 percent.

Again this year, college trustees set the tuition, room and board fees for the next academic year at their October board meeting in order to give both current and prospective students and their families time to make their financial plans for next year.
“The college has worked diligently to keep our overall costs low in these challenging times,” said Catawba President Brien Lewis. “Even though the new N.C. sales tax on meals sold to students goes into effect January 1, we chose to hold the line and not have an incremental boarding increase in the middle of this academic year. We want our students and their families to understand how outside forces often impact the institutional rates we set.”

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Florida Governor Wants A Half-Billion Dollar Tax Cut.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will push to cut $500 million in taxes and fees in his next two-year budget, a major step in what looks like a reelection platform aimed squarely at his likely general election opponent next year.

In a white paper [pdf] released Tuesday, Scott’s administration touted Florida’s rebound from the great recession. After being hit hard by the bursting housing bubble, Florida turned a budget surplus in 2012, and the state budget office projects a bigger surplus in Fiscal Year 2013, of around $2.5 billion.

“I walked into my first year with a $3.6 billion budget deficit. We held government accountable and right-sized government,” Scott said in an interview. “I’m going to figure out how to cut costs and quit raising more debt.”

The white paper, which lays out Scott’s priorities for a budget proposal he will offer in the coming weeks, reads like a policy-heavy version of a contrast advertisement. The paper points out job losses and growing state debt that occurred in the four years prior to Scott’s election.

“It is hard to ignore the dramatic shifts in fiscal policy that resulted from Gov. Scott’s tenure, and even harder to ignore the results of a growing and more dynamic economy,” the paper says. “Under Gov. Scott, the state has fundamentally changed the way it makes decisions with its taxpayers’ money.”

Scott says he wants to spend most of that money cutting taxes.

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Legendary NBA center Bill Russell was arrested Wednesday at the Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) Airport when a loaded handgun was allegedly found in his luggage, according to multiple reports.

Legendary NBA center Bill Russell was arrested Wednesday at the Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) Airport when a loaded handgun was allegedly found in his luggage, according to multiple reports.

KING-5 News and KIRO-TV in Seattle both report that Russell, 79, was arrested after a loaded .38-caliber handgun was found during a Transportation Security Administration screening of his carry-on bag.


President Refocuses Washington and The Country on a new way forward.


Washington (CNN) — The way business is done in Washington has to change to make a positive difference in the economy, President Barack Obama said Thursday as the federal government reopened for business and discussions began in Congress to reach a longer-term budget deal.

That starts, he said, with taking a balanced approach to a responsible budget. Congress should “cut out things we don’t need,” “close corporate tax loopholes that don’t create jobs,” and “free up resources for things that do help the country grow,” like research and infrastructure, he said.

The partial government shutdown and standoff over the debt ceiling ended late Wednesday night when Congress voted on a temporary funding bill that also raised the nation’s borrowing limit.

The standoff “inflicted completely unnecessary damage (to) our economy,” Obama said Thursday morning at the White House. He said it slowed the economy’s growth and set back employers’ plans to hire. “Just the threat of default … increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit,” he said.


Booker Wins NJ Senate Election, Becomes 9th African American To Serve in The U.S. Senate

CNN) — New Jersey voters head to the polls on Wednesday in a special U.S. Senate election that’s become a proxy fight over the federal government shutdown and the bitter partisan battle in the nation’s capital over the rollout of the national health care law.

Wednesday’s election between two-term Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Republican nominee Steve Lonegan will also result in a slight shift in the current balance of power in the Senate.

Booker, the front runner throughout the short campaign to replace the late Frank Lautenberg, held double-digit leads over Lonegan, a former mayor, in three polls of likely voters released in the 48 hours prior to what’s expected to be a lower voter turnout election.

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Congress votes to end shutdown, avoid US default

AP) — Up against a deadline, Congress passed and sent a waiting President Barack Obama legislation late Wednesday night to avoid a threatened national default and end the 16-day partial government shutdown, the culmination of an epic political drama that placed the U.S. economy at risk.

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N.C Governor Spends $230,000 on mansion bathrooms

RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory plans to spend up to $230,000 in taxpayer funds remodeling bathrooms in his private living quarters at North Carolina’s Executive Mansion even as he demands belt-tightening for public schools and social programs.

Planned upgrades include new marble, tubs and fixtures for six bathrooms on the upper floors of the Victorian-era home in Raleigh. The changes were included in a long list detailing $90 million in repairs and renovations to government buildings sent to legislative leaders last week by state budget director Art Pope. The $90 million was included in the state budget for the current fiscal year.

Department of Administration spokesman Chris Mears said the bathrooms were last spruced up in the 1970s, though he confirmed the facilities are still in working order. A memo justifying the repairs lists problems that include cracked tiles, worn countertops, inadequate electrical outlets and concern there might be mold growing behind the walls.

As an example of the special nature of the job, Mears said one of the vintage bathrooms had been specially modified for wheelchair access ahead of a visit by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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Gov. McCrory emphasizes the cruelty of Domestic Violence At Event.


(Wilmington Star-News) — Several hundred people gathered Thursday at Riverfront Park on Water Street in Wilmington for Take Back the Night, a domestic violence awareness event which saw an unexpected visit by Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory said that after leaving a nearby business event he noticed the crowd and stopped to listen to and speak with participants who were highlighting October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “I’ve seen it first hand as a mayor and as a governor. Domestic violence is one of the cruelest things that can happen in a community or to a family,” McCrory said. “It’s one of the most difficult things for police to handle, too.” When asked what could be done to combat domestic violence in the state, McCrory said a two-fold approach with both prevention measures and stronger laws is needed. “One thing is education; mental health, alcohol and drug counseling … so often drugs and alcohol are involved in the crime,” McCrory said. “The second is we’ve got to have policies to immediately take the abuser out of the home on the first call – not the last call.”

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The NCTracks System shows Signs of Serious Problems.


(WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL) — As officials with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services prepare to face a legislative oversight committee Tuesday, another key health care official has expressed concerns about the struggles of NCTracks, the agency’s new Medicaid claims-processing system. William Pully, president of the N.C. Hospital Association, sent DHHS officials a letter last week that stated “hospitals and other providers continue to experience serious problems with NCTracks.” NCTracks is considered as the first major test for the McCrory administration’s focus on overhauling information technology in state government. At a $484 million contract cost for development, implementation and ongoing support, it represents the biggest IT project in state government history, DHHS spokesman Ricky Diaz said in June.

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Senator Hagan says Government Shutdown is Hurting N.C.


(WFAE-FM) — One of North Carolina’s U.S. senators says the partial government shutdown is already hurting the state in large and small ways. It’s the result of House Republicans refusing to pass a once-routine budget procedure unless they can defund or delay the president’s health care law. Now Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat up for reelection next year, says her office can’t meet one of its most basic responsibilities for constituents – helping North Carolinians who call or show up with a wide variety of questions. “So all of the work that we do for veterans, for people who have Social Security questions, for people who have IRS questions, for people who have passport and visa questions – that is shut down,” Hagan said in a phone interview. Senator Hagan also points out the state’s national parks are closed and many North Carolina veterans may have to wait even longer to get benefits. That’s because the backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs will likely get worse during the partial shutdown.

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Tips for Boosting Electronic Health Records Usability.

EHR usability is among the greatest barriers to digitizing America’s healthcare system. Electronic health records present a push toward modernization – transformation even – but to fulfill the promise, industry insiders say, the clunky technology has to be made easier for doctors to use. EHRs must be more elegant and more interoperabile.

“Poor EHR system design and improper use can cause EHR-related errors that jeopardize the integrity of the information in the EHR, leading to errors that endanger patient safety or decrease the quality of care,” Sue Bowman, AHIMA’s senior director of coding policy and compliance, wrote in an article of AHIMA’s Perspectives in Health Information Management. “These unintended consequences also may increase fraud and abuse and can have serious legal implications.”

Bowman essentially rolled together a half-dozen tactics for addressing EHR usability:
1. Usability should be included in the EHR certification process
2.Certification requirements should define what a vendor’s product is not allowed to do in addition to what it must do
3. Healthcare organizations and other providers should develop and implement policies and procedures pertaining to appropriate EHR use

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White House Meeting With Congressional Leaders Fails To Reopen the Government.


obama at the desk

House Passes State Aid Bill By 247-161 Vote

For 90 minutes late Wednesday afternoon, the leaders of the House and Senate met with President Obama at the White House, looking to resolve a government shutdown headed into its third day while also averting what would be an even costlier default on US debt.

The meeting failed to do that, and both sides appear as intransigent as ever.

Obama “refuses to negotiate,” House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio told reporters as he left the White House. “All we’re asking for here is a discussion and fairness for the American people under Obamacare.”

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada said, “We’re locked in tight on Obamacare” and neither the president nor Democrats in Congress will accept changes in that health-care law as the price for spending legislation needed to reopen the government.

Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) introduced a bill Tuesday that would block members of Congress from being paid during a government shutdown.

picture is from carbis

picture is from carbis

Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) introduced a bill Tuesday that would block members of Congress from being paid during a government shutdown.

The “No Government – No Pay Act” would stop members from being paid their salaries for as long as a shutdown continues.

“The inability of this Congress to collaborate, compromise, and get things done has led me to introduce legislation to prohibit Members from being paid when failure to do their job results in a government shutdown,” Nolan said in a Tuesday statement. “It’s time for Congress to start living in the real world – where you either do your job, or you don’t get paid.”

However, the bill may violate the 27th Amendment, which states no law changing congressional compensation may take effect until an election in the House of Representatives.

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Unencrypted Laptop With Patient Information Stolen.


The San Jose, Calif.-based Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is notifying 571 patients that their protected health information has been compromised after an unencrypted laptop was stolen from the hospital’s audiology department.

Patient names, medical records numbers, dates of birth, ages, sex, dates of service and brainwaves from testing were all included on the laptop, according to the Sept. 27 notification letters mailed to patients.

The theft was discovered Sept. 16.

[See also: Ready or not: HIPAA gets tougher today.]

“We apologize for any inconvenience or concern this incident may have caused you,” wrote Lisa Pfeifer, acting compliance and privacy officer at Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System, in the letter. “SCVHHS maintains high standards for the safeguarding of protected health information and takes all potential or actual patient privacy breaches seriously.”

To protect against further breaches, Pfeifer said she would speak with department heads to ensure proper policies and procedures are being followed, in addition to providing privacy training for the department. Plans for encrypting laptops were not, however, indicated.

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The Health Insurance Marketplace Launches Today

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picture is from

If you are like me and live in a state like North Carolina, you are probably wondering if you can sign up to partcipate in the Health Insurance Market Place. States like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas did not accept federal funds to expand Medicaid. You may think you have the short end of the stick but all is not lost. I was able to find a website that will answer all your questions. The site is
Below, I have listed some key points from the site. Please visit for more information.

If you live in a state that’s not expanding Medicaid and you don’t qualify for Medicaid under your state’s current rules, one of two situations applies to you:

If your income is more than about $11,500 a year as a single person (about $23,500 for a family of 4, or 100% of the federal poverty level), you will be able to buy health insurance in the Marketplace and get lower costs based on your household size and income.

If you make less than about $11,500 a year as a single person (about $23,500 for a family of 4), you’ll be able to get insurance in the Marketplace–but you won’t be able to get lower costs based on your income. If you buy insurance in the Marketplace, you will have to pay full price.

Uninsured people in states that aren’t expanding Medicaid don’t have to pay a fee
Under the law, anyone who has health care coverage available and can afford to buy it must have coverage or pay a fee.

But you won’t have to pay this fee if:

you live in a state that isn’t expanding Medicaid to cover people in your situation, and

you don’t qualify for either Medicaid or lower costs on Marketplace coverage. This is called an exemption. You can get an exemption when you apply for coverage in the Marketplace.

Apply for Medicaid, even in states that aren’t expanding it in 2014
Even if your state is not expanding Medicaid, you should apply for coverage to see if you qualify. Your medical needs or unique circumstances might mean you qualify.

Government shutdown begins

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The US government shut down at midnight as the GOP-controlled House continued to demand changes in Obamacare as the price of funding federal activities and as the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected that linkage.

Social Security checks will still be delivered, the mail will go through, and the military will be paid. But the vast majority of Uncle Sam’s work will be curtailed as agencies from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Veterans Affairs end nonessential services because they don’t have the money to pay employees

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5 Things To Know About The Flu Shot


Back-to-school is nearly synonymous with flu season, which means sunburned noses are about to give way to runny noses rubbed raw from one too many tissues.

Fortunately, the 2013-14 flu shot is already available, and this year it’s better than ever, covering four strains of the virus instead of the usual three.

“You can see cases as early as October,” ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said recently on Good Morning America. “So I like to get the vaccine as soon as it’s available. I got mine last Friday.”

Here’s what you need to know about the flu shot to get ready for flu season this year.

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Police Release 911 Tape in Charlotte Police Shooting

From AP:

A sobbing woman pleads for police to “please hurry” because a man was breaking into her front door during a 911 call recorded moments before a responding officer shot and killed an unarmed man outside.

The unidentified woman kept repeating “Oh, my god! Oh, my god!” throughout the call, which was released Tuesday. She also told the 911 operator that she had a baby in a crib and didn’t know what to do. Later, she said the man knocked on her door and “he’s in my front yard yelling.”

Authorities said Jonathan A. Ferrell was shot 10 times by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer after being involved in a single-car wreck. Police have said Ferrell may have been seeking help and made no verbal threats to the woman.

Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter. His lawyers were in court Tuesday for a first appearance on the charge. Kerrick, 27, did not attend. The judge scheduled an Oct. 7 probable cause hearing for Kerrick.

After the hearing, defense attorney Michael Greene declined to take questions but said of Kerrick: “His actions were justified on the night in question.”

Kerrick joined the police force after working as an animal control officer. He grew up in nearby Cabarrus County.

Kerrick and two other officers responding to the breaking and entering call found Ferrell on a road that only leads to the neighborhood’s pool. Ferrell ran toward the officers, who tried to stop him with a Taser. Police said he continued to run toward them when Kerrick shot him. Ferrell died at the scene.

A Ferrell family attorney and representatives of the NAACP have questioned whether race played a role in the shooting. Ferrell is black, while Kerrick is white. Though there was praise for police for quickly filing charges, some said the shooting didn’t surprise them, considering portrayals of black men in popular culture and previous instances of racially inflected violence

On the 911 tape released by the city, the woman tells a dispatcher that she thought her husband had returned home around 2:30 a.m. But when she opened the door, a man tried to get in.

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Strong Turnout In Moore County, N.C. For Moral Monday.

A strong turnout at a Moral Monday event in Republican-heavy Moore County shows that the movement goes beyond party lines, the head of the state chapter of the NAACP said. The Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was the featured speaker at the rally Monday at Downtown Park in Southern Pines. Many of the hundreds of people who attended held signs opposing laws enacted by the GOP-led General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.”We couldn’t turn it off if we wanted to,” Barber said in an interview after the event.Issues raised in the rallies go beyond political parties, he said.”Some stuff is just right or wrong,” he said. “It has nothing to do with political party.”

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What a Cannon, Peacock Face-off means for the city of Charlotte


By Ashlei Blue-Contributor

November’s mayoral race in Charlotte will pit two familiar faces against each other. The Mayor Pro-Tem has had his eye on the seat quietly for months. Former city councilman Peacock threw his hat in the ring early, sending a sign to his challengers that he was unabashedly attempting something we haven’t seen in years, which is to elect a Republican mayor. Peacock advised his supporters that he would essentially shield them from any repercussions of a majority Democratic council.

The uphill battle for Peacock is clear when comparing the final tallies. Cannon brought in close to 14,000 votes measuring well alongside Peacock’s 8,275.

What you can expect:

1. It’s the economy, stupid.
Cannon’s made a plea for common sense fiscal responsibility while investing in Charlotte’s growth, while Peacock is reluctant to raise taxes. Meet in the middle or split the baby in half? Only debates and community discussions will determine this one.

2. Party Politics
Energizing the base is a key to victory in this election. Peacock will need to arouse the sleeping giant in South Charlotte, while Cannon’s challenge will be to push even more voters to the polls to essentially wipe out the voting power of districts 6 and 7.

3. Building Bridges
Tickets can be successful in municipal races. It’s up to these two candidates to engage the colleagues that will share the seat next to them at the Government Center. Look for alliances to build strength and pay close attention to the lone rangers who refuse to tag along with the crowd.

NC State Rep. Valerie Foushee to Replace State Sen. Kinnaird

Raleigh, N.C. — Freshman state Rep. Valerie Foushee will replace resigning Chapel Hill Democrat Ellie Kinnaird in the North Carolina Senate.

A committee of Orange and Chatham County Democrats selected Foushee, D-Orange, from a list of several contenders, including Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, former state Rep. Alice Bordsen and well-known author and blogger Amy Tiemann.

Foushee will serve the remainder of Kinnaird’s term, expiring December 2014. Because the district is considered one of the few “safe” Democratic districts drawn in the GOP’s 2011 redistricting maps, she is considered likely to then win election to a full term.

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Senate Committee Votes Narrowly To Authorize U.S. Strike Against Syria.

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WASHINGTON –- A divided Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted narrowly Wednesday to authorize a punitive U.S. strike against Syria, opening the way for a vote in the full Senate next week.

The vote was 10 to 7, with Democrats and Republicans on each side. Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) supported the measure, as did ranking member Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has repeatedly urged President Obama to do more to aid the Syrian opposition.

Opponents included conservative Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and liberals Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who voted for the resolution, said it would send a clear message to Assad. “This won’t be a limited, but a powerful response,” he said.

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McCain Opposes Senate Resolution On Syria

From AP:

Sen. John McCain says he doesn’t support the latest Senate resolution to authorize military force against Syria.

McCain is an outspoken advocate of intervention against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and wants more than cruise missile strikes and other limited action.

The Arizona Republican threatened earlier this week to vote against a White House draft resolution unless President Barack Obama promised greater support to Syria’s rebels. McCain then expressed support after meeting Obama at the White House.

He now opposes a resolution crafted by Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. It puts a 90-day limit on action and says no American troops can be sent into Syria.

Asked if he supported it, McCain said, “In its current form, I do not.”

In N.C. Friday is the last day that 16 and 17 year olds can pre-register to vote.

Raleigh News & Observer) — North Carolina Friday is the last day that 16 and 17 year olds can pre-register to vote. To mark the end of the program, Common Cause North Carolina will hold a news conference on Friday at Raleigh Charter High School where students will register and 15 year old students will discuss not being able to register in the future. Earlier this month, Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law ending the pre registration program as part of a larger voter bill. North Carolina is the first state in the country to end the program. Meanwhile, Colorado has recently become the 9th state to enact a law allowing pre registration for high school students.

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How Art Pope Turned Back The Clock In N.C.


(Facing South) — When Montravias King, a senior at North Carolina’s historically black Elizabeth City State University, showed up at a hearing before the Pasquotank County Board of Elections earlier this month to defend his bid for a city council seat, he faced off against Richard “Pete” Gilbert, the local Republican Party chair. Gilbert was there to challenge King’s residency qualifications, arguing that because the student lives in a campus dormitory he’s not a permanent resident of Elizabeth City and therefore does not have the right to hold local office. Earlier this year, Gilbert also got 56 ECSU students dropped from the voter rolls for registering at their campus address., He has not mounted similar challenges to student voters at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, a largely white private school also in Elizabeth City. Gilbert, who told the Associated Press that he plans to “take this show on the road,” did not come to the Pasquotank elections board hearing alone: Sitting next to him was Susan Myrick, an elections analyst with the John W. Pope Civitas Institute. (Not the same Sue Myrick who formerly served as the U.S. Representative for North Carolina’s 9th District.). Civitas is a conservative think tank founded and largely funded by GOP mega-donor and North Carolina budget director Art Pope. Myrick’s presence at King’s hearing has raised questions about Pope’s involvement in efforts to roll back voting rights in North Carolina, which had made great strides in boosting turnout in recent years. But that progress in expanding access to the franchise is now jeopardized by a controversial new state elections law, the Voter Identification and Verification Act, which requires voters to show a state-issued photo ID but does not allow students to use school IDs. The local elections board, which is controlled by a Republican majority, sided with Gilbert, and last week issued an order barring King from the ballot. The Durham, N.C.-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice has filed an appeal with the state elections board, saying the ruling violates equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The hearing is set for Tuesday, Sept. 3. The decision will have important implications for the voting rights of students across North Carolina, since residency requirements for running for office and casting a ballot are the same..

Moral Monday’s Comes To Charlotte

moral monday charlotte

(WCNC-TV) — Demonstrators gathered at uptown’s Marshall Park at 5 p.m. Monday for Charlotte’s “Moral Monday” protest, part of a statewide series of events opposing recent action by the Republican-led legislature. The movement, which has won national attention in recent months, began in Raleigh amid a flurry of legislation that protesters see as assaults on the low-income, voting and abortion rights and public education. “I am very upset about the path our legislature has taken…we have stepped back many years. It’s a beautiful thing to see, people coming together, old and young, black and white. A lot of teachers, gay people, straight people, everybody from North Carolina who wants rights that are equal,” said demonstrator Natasha Marcus.

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Calls For McCrory To Intervene In Watauga County Voting.

Raleigh News & Observer) — Gov. Pat McCrory told WUNC radio that partisan politics should stay out of the process of locating polling sites. Now an elections advocacy group wants him to apply those principles to Watauga County, which just removed polling locations from the campus of Appalachian State University.

Forsyth County Democrats Will Have Poll Observers on September 10th


Winston-Salem Journal) — Susan Campbell, the chairwoman of the Forsyth County Democratic Party, says that local Democrats will have observers at the polls for the Sept. 10 primary for the municipal elections. Under current state law, each political party can provide two observers at precincts in the county. The state’s new voter-identification law includes a provision that will take effect on Jan. 1 allowing the Democratic and Republican parties to provide up to 10 observers at every precinct. “We want to make sure that people aren’t confused by the new law and intimidated at the polls, even though the law will not have gone into effect this year,” Campbell said.

The 2013 General Assembly Session Review


Vote tallies from the 2013 General Assembly session reveal those with perfect attendance, rebel lawmakers and the most loyal of the opposition. Only one member of the House, Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, cast all 1,352 votes during the 2013 session. Along with Dollar, 21 other members of the House cast 99 percent or more of all votes during the session. Rep. James Langdon, R-Johnston, missed the most votes of any state representative who served for the entire session. He cast only 75.5 percent of all votes. Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry, missed the second-most votes, casting only 78.6 percent of recorded votes. Two state senators, Ben Clark, D-Hoke, and Shirley Randleman, R-Wilkes, recorded all 913 votes for the session. Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe, missed the most votes. He was recorded only 613 out 913 times, or 67.14 percent. It’s worth noting that under the Senate’s own measure for missed votes, Jenkins made 95.5 percent of votes.

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NC Democratic Party elect Keever as 1st Vice Chair.


Saturday, Keever told WNCN she thinks she was chosen because she’s experienced and has been tested. “I think the party needs to feel like it has a leader who doesn’t have a lot of baggage and I think I’ve been vetted so many times, because I’ve run for office and served in office, that I’m not bringing any baggage,” she said. “I’m here for the people. We’ve got to work together. If our chairman is our chairman, then we’ll work with him. We’ll work with whomever we have to work with, but the point is we need to elect Democrats.”

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N.C. Agricultural Industry Wants Veto Override

RALEIGH — The state’s agricultural industry is pushing for an override of the governor’s veto of an immigration bill that would have made it easier to use seasonal laborers.

The N.C. Farm Bureau said Friday it is working with legislative leaders to persuade members of the General Assembly to reconvene in less than two weeks for override votes. They say the matter is urgent because without an override there will be a shortage of workers, which will lead to rotting crops and then less produce in grocery stores.

“With the veto, it’s going to be devastating for our industry and for the majority of the farm industry, period,” said Ralph Carter Jr., a blueberry farmer from Bladen County.

Challenging the governor’s veto has traction with agricultural interests and with House Speaker Thom Tillis, both of whom say they are concerned about more than that single bill. Both blame inaction in Washington for failing to address the nation’s immigration issues. Tillis is a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and is already talking about immigration.

By law, Gov. Pat McCrory has to reconvene the legislature to consider veto overrides within 40 days of adjournment, which falls on Sept. 4. The General Assembly will have to meet then or inform the governor the session would be unnecessary, which requires they send him a petition signed by a majority of both chambers by Aug. 25. If they do that, the legislature could also wait until next year’s short session to take up the override.

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N.C. Governor’s camp releases internal poll showing governor’s approval at 48% PPP Shows Him at 39%


Pat McCrory’s camp released internal poll numbers Wednesday showing his job approval rating at 48 percent — a move designed to counter a different poll that shows the governor’s stock declining.
The poll commissioned by Renew North Carolina Foundation, a private nonprofit extended from McCrory’s 2012 campaign, gives the Republican governor a 26-point positive approval margin, with just 22 percent disapproving. His favorability rating is essentially the same at 49 favorable to 22 percent unfavorable, according to a portion of the poll released first to Dome. Another 29 percent were unsure. The margin of error for the poll is plus-or-minus 3.5 percent.
Earlier Wednesday, a new survey from Public Policy Polling showed McCrory’s job approval rating at 39 percent with 51 percent disapproving — his lowest numbers of his term and part of a sustained decline since he took office at the start of the year. The margin of error is 4 percent.
The poll asked the same question but the different numbers are likely attributed to methodology. McCrory’s camp polled likely voters and PPP surveyed registered voters.
Renew North Carolina used the Republican firm TelOpinion Research, the McCrory campaign’s pollster, to conduct its poll, which called 800 likely North Carolina voters Aug. 8-12. As a benchmark, Renew North Carolina released President Barack Obama’s approval rating (split 48-48) and favorability (48-41). A spokesman read the questions over the phone but declined to release the entire poll.
The Raleigh-based PPP polled 600 registered North Carolina voters Aug. 8-11 through an automated, or robo-call, system. The Democratic firm — often a target of ire for McCrory during the campaign — polls North Carolina every month and received widespread accolades for its accurate polling in the 2012 elections. It shows Obama’s job approval at 46-51.

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Forbes: Papa John’s, Applebee’s And Others Pay Huge Price For Anti-Obamacare Politicking

It turns out that being a good corporate citizen is as important to selling pizzas as the thinness of the crust or the quality of the cheese. If you don’t believe it, just ask Papa John CEO, John Schnatter. As covered—and criticized—in this column in great detail, Mr. Schnatter decided to mix his politics with his pepperoni when suggesting that he would be cutting the work hours for Papa John employees in order to bring them below the 30 hour per week threshold that would require Schnatter to provide his employees with healthcare benefits. It turns out, the pizza eating public did not approve.

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to scale back ethanol amount

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to scale back the amount of ethanol it will require refiners to blend into the gasoline supply next year, handing a major victory to the oil industry and a loss to corn growers and other biofuel producers.

The Obama administration’s proposal on the 2014 renewable fuel volume requirements has become one of the year’s most heavily lobbied energy policy decisions. Congress created the mandate during the George W. Bush administration, with the aim of using home-grown biofuels to combat worries about oil imports and greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Politico