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Patrick Cannon2Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon’s arrest on bribery charges yesterday is, of course, just the latest in a long line such events in modern American (and North Carolina) history. Indeed, political corruption arrests and prosecutions are such a part of our story that one can easily spend the day perusing lists of political crooks that have been complied by various media outlets and good government websites.

Here, therefore, to save you from that temptation, are a few of the most recent and interesting lists:

First off, it’s worth noting that, thanks to the FBI, Cannon is part of a list of politicians arrested yesterday. As the Washington Post reports, FBI stings also reeled in a California state senator and a New York assemblyman.

Wikipedia, quite helpfully, has three lists – one for federal politicians, one for state and local and one entitled “List of state and local political scandals.” The second list is also organized by state  and North Carolina – home to Stephen LaRoque, Jim Black and Meg Scott Phipps — holds its own but doesn’t really stand out.  As is often the case with Wikipedia though, all three are incomplete. Perhaps you can suggest an addition or two.

And if you think things are bad here, check out this list published in the New York Times last year entitled “The Many Faces of State Political Scandals,” which features 32 New York officials convicted of a crime, censured or otherwise accused of wrongdoing over the past seven years, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group. Read More

For Lunch Links today, I’m taking advantage of this rare opportunity to bring a little celebrity news to Policy Watch. Dedicated readers certainly know that just isn’t our thing.

I could go on and on about how charming Jennifer Lawrence was tripping over a traffic cone and how stunning Lupita Nyong’o and her dress were, but lupitaI know Policy Watch readers are a bit more high-brow than I.

Here’s a thoughtful essay up on MSNBC’s website about what made “12 Years A Slave” stand out from other Hollywood movies about slavery or JimCrow– namely that the film didn’t hold back from giving an unflinching portrayal of the horrors endured by Solomon Northup, a freed black New Yorker kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery.

The New York Times also ran a correction today for misspelling Northup’s name, in an article written about him 161 years ago.

The New Yorker has this interesting piece about the Somali actor Barkhad Abdi nominated for his role as a pirate in Tom Hanks’ “Captain Phillips”. Abdi was paid $65,000 two years ago for his role, and is now apparently broke, despite accolades he’s received for the movie that made $218 million at box offices worldwide. Click here to read a recap of the New Yorker piece (only subscribers to the magazine can access the entire article).

Finally you know that “spontaneous” selfie that Ellen DeGeneres took during the Oscars that broke Twitter and became the most retweeted photo of all time? Well, the Wall Street Journal figured out pretty quickly it wasn’t all that spontaneous but more the result of $20 million Samsung paid to market its goods during the Oscars.

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Food labelIf you’re getting ready to pop open a cup of yogurt or a can of soup for lunch today, be sure to take note of the nutrition label as it’s about to get a smidge more relevant and informative in the near future thanks to a new Food and Drug Administration directive and some helpful advocacy from First Lady Michelle Obama.  And, of course, it probably won’t be long before the denizens of the Pope Empire inform us that this is all a matter of big government quashing the “freedom” of unfettered markets.

And speaking of “free” markets, the right wing is — amazingly enough — weighing in again of late to inform us that not only is raising the minimum wage a terrible idea, but so, indeed, is the VERY IDEA of minimum wage laws. First it was the John Locke Foundation in this essay last week and then, yesterday, it was state House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis.

And speaking of the U.S. Senate, here’s a doozy: Read More

Moral March on RaleighYes, the end of the work week is here for many of us, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more important work to do.

#1 on the list, of course, is tomorrow’s Moral March on Raleigh. As has been reported in numerous places, a record crowd is expected so tune up your voice, come early (9:00 am if you can), wear warm rain gear and bring your mobile devices so you can share messages and images with the wider world at the #MoralMarch,#MoralMonday and #HKonJ hashtags.

And speaking of important work that needs to get done ASAP, the New York Times is once again reporting to the nation about a huge screw-up in North Carolina. This time it’s the coal ash disaster in Eden. Click here to see an informative slideshow on the spill at the N.C. Conservation Network Facebook page.

And speaking of slideshows, Think Progress has another interesting one entitled “7 Things Republicans Would Be Shocked to Learn About Ronald Reagan.” For example, #4: “Reagan grew the federal government big time.”  To quote: Read More

For Lunch Links today, I thought I’d take a bit more time to point out some incredible pieces of journalism that have caught my attention this week.

First, the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism, one of the nation’s most prestigious journalism awards, were given out this week.

The finalists included this bilingual report, Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño about the prevalence of sexual assaults amongst migrant farm works. The piece was put together as an joint investigation between the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism, The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), FRONTLINE and Univisión Documentaries.

It’s a sobering look at the dangers that many women face as they work providing our nation’s food supply.

A little more locally, WRAL’s Mark Binker boiled down how top dollars flooded into legislative races, with a profile of the $1 million that led to Republican state Sen. Chad Barefoot’s win in 2012 over a Democratic incumbent Doug Berger.

The piece (click here) is lengthy, but boils down some of the rules and workarounds of campaign finance that can so often be confusing to the larger public.

If campaign finance and the emergence of behind-the-scenes election dollars is your thing, make sure you check out this report from ProPublica, “Buying Your Money: Dark Money and Big Data.” There are loads of interactive features to look at how races across the nation are getting propped up from corporate and political party money.

All of that campaign finance talk is a good reminder that today’s the deadline for North Carolina state elected officials to turn in their campaign finance reports for the second half of 2013.

The state Board of Elections compiles the forms electronically here, and will be uploaded in coming days.

Happy sleuthing!