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If they won’t tell us what’s in fracking fluid, and it becomes a crime in NC to reveal fracking chemicals, would it be a crime to keep guessing random substances until you hit one? “Raspberry jam? No. Frappuccino? No. Ethylene glycol? I’m not at liberty to say, but you’re under arrest. Oh, and Starbucks just called about a copyright violation. It’s Frappuccino®, and they’re suing you for defamation. Corporate just called, and raspberry jam may or may not be an ingredient because those seeds keep the cracks apart the same way they get stuck between your teeth, so you’re under arrest for that too. Oh, yeah, and you’re “disturbing” the members of the Legislature, so that’s a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

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SkvarlaToothbrushDENR Secretary John Skvarla grimaced his way through a February 19th press briefing on the Dan River coal ash spill. Only as he walked smartly away from a clamoring press corps, which was chagrined at the briefing’s premature cessation, did he crack a smile, followed by a smirking Tom Reeder, his Water Quality Man Friday. They had promised a press conference that would last as long as there were questions to be asked, but Michael Biesecker of the Associated Press had apparently asked one too many.

A disconsolate Skvarla famously urged his besieged staff to “smile, be happy, have fun and enjoy the process – because if we can’t do that we’re all doing the wrong thing”. He even urged them by email to include it as a measurable goal in their Employee Performance Plans. By any public measure Skvarla is failing miserably in this category, though to be fair he and other political appointees may sit around privately laughing at the sorry state of North Carolina’s eroding environmental protections.
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Former state representative Stephen LaRoque appeared in federal court in Raleigh last week to face charges of theft and money laundering. Pending trial in Greenville at a later date LaRoque was released on an unsecured bond and restricted to travel within the 44 counties of the Eastern District of North Carolina. That has not stopped another case involving LaRoque from making it all the way to the Supreme Court in Washington DC. The spotlight will be on voter suppression, namely the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, not LaRoque, though LaRoque’s name and statements appear in documents submitted to the court, including statements referring to his status as a state legislator.
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Attend any legislative meeting at the NC General Assembly related to immigration or documentation of identity and you’ll likely find James Johnson in the front row, shoulder to shoulder with Ron Woodard of NC LISTEN and/or William Gheen of ALIPAC. Johnson, an advocate of Arizona style immigration controls, is President/Founder of North Carolinians For Immigration Reform & Enforcement (NCFIRE). Described variously as a non-profit organization, accepting tax deductible donations, and specifically as a 501(c)3 organization*, NCFIRE is curiously MIA when it comes to documentation of its own identity.
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