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Erskine Bowles is a fairly unusual would-be Democratic nominee for Governor. At a point in life at which the typical politician would be thinking about winding down his or her career, Bowles has yet to actually ever win an election. According to his own description, he was a “terrible politician” during his most recent attempt at high state office. To make matters even more challenging, his background is mostly as a wealthy corporate boardroom type — hardly the typical resumé for a standard-bearer of the Democrats — a party whose base still tilts liberal/progressive. His most recent actions as a public servant — to propose enormous and painful cuts to federal spending – outraged many thoughtful progressives.

So, why then are so many North Carolina Democrats waiting and hoping that Bowles will throw his hat into the ring for the now wide-open Democratic nomination?

Here, it would appear anyway, are some of the main reasons: Read More

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According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2011 set a record for the number of billion dollar disasters in a single year in the US – 12 – topping nine events in 2009. Two of those were in our state – Hurricane Irene and the April tornadoes, placing NC fourth for 2011. The 12 events, which included extreme drought, wildfires, floods, heat waves, winter storms, tornadoes and hurricanes, caused more than 1,000 deaths and 8,000 injuries.

In a recent online video, National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes said, “In my weather career spanning four decades, I’ve never seen a year quite like 2011… Extreme weather and associated societal impacts have increased in recent years with our changing climate and the nation must be prepared for more frequent extreme weather in the future.”

While every natural disaster cannot be linked to global warming, a warming climate provides more fuel for extreme events. Yet even in the face of 2011’s extreme weather, Republicans and Democrats alike drag their feet to create policies to curb global warming.

Here are some policy and regulatory debates to watch this year. Together these will have short and long term impacts on global warming and the nation’s energy policy. The only question is whether our elected officials will help or hinder our need to move to a clean energy economy. Read More

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This afternoon, Governor Perdue issued an executive order to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to eliminate all admission barriers that would prevent at-risk children from participating in the North Carolina Prekindergarten Program (formerly More At Four).

Governor Perdue’s order implements Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning’s ruling last month, which stated that access to high-quality prekindergarten was necessary to protect “the individual right of every child to have the equal opportunity to obtain a sound basic education.”

Although the media is likely to focus on Perdue’s order as part of a political “battle” between her and the General Assembly’s GOP leadership, the real story is that the Governor’s order is likely to make a huge positive difference in the lives of thousands of at-risk kids in North Carolina. Read More

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Rachel Maddow’s guest host, Melissa Harris-Perry had a segment on North Carolina’s legislative madness and the battle over Governor Perdue’s vetoes last night. It runs a generous 11 minutes-plus. The highlight occurs during the last couple of minutes when Harris-Perry interviews our own Chris Fitzsimon.

Enjoy!

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America’s first offshore wind project has received the final okay from the Department of the Interior last week after years of delay. The project, named Cape Wind, will be located off Nantucket Sound, MA, and once operational, will power 400,000 homes. The announcement from Secretary Salazar came just before the one-year anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Meanwhile back home, NC Republican legislators used the anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico disaster to promote offshore energy – but what kind? Read More