Beagles rescued from Virginia dog-breeding facility get the star treatment in D.C.

Overturning Roe sends approval of U.S. Supreme Court plummeting, new national poll finds

A new poll finds approval for the U.S. Supreme Court has plummeted in the aftermath of the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade — Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that overturned a national right to abortion, public approval of the Court has fallen dramatically and stayed there, a new national poll from Marquette Law School finds.

In the new survey, 40% of respondents said they approved of how the Court was doing its job while 60% said they disapproved.

The survey also found that 61% of those surveyed opposed the June 24 high court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states.

“I think it very clearly drives this shift in views of the court,” Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said of the ruling striking down Roe. Franklin spoke in an interview posted on the law school’s YouTube channel.

The new survey is the 10th national Marquette Law School Poll focusing on the U.S. Supreme Court. The new survey polled 1,448 adults and was conducted online Sept. 7-14. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Approval of the Court has been falling in the last two years, and has now almost completely flipped. In a September 2020 poll, 66% of those surveyed said they approved of the Court, while 33% disapproved. The last survey to register a net positive approval took place in March 2022, when 54% said they approved of how the Court was handling its job and 45% disapproved.

The Court’s approval went under water just after a draft was leaked in May of the pending abortion ruling in the Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In the Marquette poll’s May 9-19 survey, 44% of respondents said they approved of the Court’s work and 55% said they disapproved.

With the July 5-12 survey, the first after the decision itself, the gap grew wider: 38% said they approved of the Court and 61% disapproved. Those numbers changed only slightly with the new survey, Franklin said.

In addition to losing public approval, the Court has also lost public confidence, according to the Marquette poll. In the new survey, 30% said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Court, while 36% said they had “very little” confidence or “none at all.”

In September 2019, when the first Marquette national survey on the Court was conducted, 37% said they were confident and 20% not confident in the Court, Franklin said. In the new survey, confidence fell by 7 points, but “not confident” increased by 16 points, he observed.

In addition to the overall negative shift in views of the Court, the new poll also found a sharper partisan division. Among Republicans in the survey, 65% said they approved and 34% disapproved. Among Democrats, 24% said they approved and 76% disapproved, while 35% of independents approved and 66% disapproved.

“Partisan differences are larger than they used to be,” Franklin said. In the July 2021 survey, when 60% approved and 40% disapproved, “there was very little partisan difference.”

Erik Gunn is the deputy editor of the Wisconsin examiner, which first published this report.

Compute North, which planned to build a cryptomining center in Greenville, declares bankruptcy

(Adobe Stock)

Compute North, which had planned to build a large cryptomining facility in Greenville, has declared bankruptcy, according to court documents dated Sept. 22. 

Filed in the Southern District of Texas, the bankruptcy applies to the company’s main entity, as well as its subsidiaries spanning several states. That includes Compute North NC09, incorporated in North Carolina.

The company owes between $100 million and $500 million, according to the filings. None of the listed creditors are in North Carolina. The value of its assets are within the same range. 

Compute North is headquartered in Minnesota. It hosts cryptomining centers in Big Spring, Texas; Kearney, Nebraska; and North Sioux City, South Dakota. 

The company generated $34 million in revenue in 2021 from hosting cryptomining operations, according to court filings. Two other centers, in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Minden, Nebraska, remain unfinished because of the company’s financial difficulties.

The company tabled its proposed Greenville facility in May, citing the “uncertainty of energy costs.” 

Compute North became cash-strapped because of “a confluence of events that severely impeded” the company’s development of several new facilities, court filings read. Bitcoin prices have nosedived to nearly 75% below its all-time highs, while electricity rates have doubled.

The company also encountered a financial dispute with one of its financers, Generate Lenders. It had previously fronted $300 million to Compute North to build cryptomining centers in Kearney, Nebraska, and Granbury, Texas. 

In July, Generate seized some assets of Compute North, including $23.6 million in bank accounts of the Kearney and Granbury operations – “disrupting” Compute North’s business operations,” court filings read. 

Compute North still owes $101.3 million to Generate. The lender stopped financing new projects, and “new funding sources did not materialize,” court documents read.

The bankruptcy filings offer an inside look at some hidden aspects of the cryptomining industry. For example, in addition to hosting cryptomining centers, Compute North mines its own bitcoin and converts it to U.S. dollars each day. That segment of the business generated $12 million in revenue last year.

Cryptomining centers are often controversial because racks of high-speed computers and air conditioners consume enormous amounts of electricity, in some cases as much as small countries. Court documents called this a “public perception problem.” 

To overcome those problems, Compute North hired Bootstrap Energy to help it select new sites and secure property tax abatements. The Urban Solution Group, which is owed $71,637, also navigated local and state regulations on behalf of Compute North.

While the crypto industry claims it contributes to renewable energy development, it largely has tapped into fossil fuel sources. This year, high energy costs have made it difficult for bitcoin miners “to profitably operate during certain periods of the day” due to fluctuations in prices.

In North Carolina, the company had initially eyed a parcel in Pitt County, outside the Greenville city limits, near a Black and Latino neighborhood and across the street from a school, Southerly magazine and Enlace Latino previously reported. 

In November 2021, opponents protested over concerns about the effects of noise pollution on residents and students from the hundreds of air conditioners needed to keep the computers cool. Compute North withdrew its plan shortly before the Pitt County Commission was scheduled to vote.

Computer North then turned to Greenville, also in Pitt County, where it hoped to build within the city limits, Policy Watch reported. Last January, the economic development group, Greenville Eastern North Carolina Alliance, successfully petitioned the City Council to approve a rezoning. That allowed the company to build a facility, as long as the property was at least 35 acres and in an industrial area. 

At the January meeting, Tony Cannon, general manager and CEO of the Greenville Utilities Commission said it would enter into a five-year power purchase agreement with Compute North. The GUC buys power from Duke Energy. 

There is enough capacity on the Greenville grid to meet the company’s demand for an extra 150 megawatts of power, Cannon said at the time. (For context 150 megawatts is equivalent to more than twice the output of Duke Energy’s solar farm in Maiden, North Carolina.)

Cannon said during the meeting that revenue from Compute North’s power bills could help offset costs of Greenville’s infrastructure upgrades.

However, in Big Spring, Texas, Compute North didn’t pay part of its utility bill. The company owes the city nearly $25,000.

Faith leaders urge minimum wage hike, expanded child tax credit as Congress nears recess

UNC Board of Governors skips national search, names David Crabtree permanent CEO of PBS NC

David Crabtree

David Crabtree, former long-time reporter and anchor at WRAL, was made CEO of PBS NC Thursday after a unanimous vote by the UNC Board of Governors. Crabtree has served as interim leader of the organization for the past five months.

The board broke precedent in hiring Crabtree, who will make $275,000 per year in his new role, by not conducting a national candidate search. Such a search isn’t required for the organization’s top executive – but it has been standard protocol for decades.

UNC System President Peter Hans told the board Thursday he was glad he could lure Crabtree away from WRAL to take on the interim role in April. The original plan was to do a national search for candidates, but Hans said over the last few months he rethought that.

“As he settled into the role I began to ask myself, ‘Why in the world would we conduct a search for a new CEO and general manager when we have a seasoned manager and pro right here?” Hans said.

The shift in process has some people within PBS NC and state government asking questions.

State Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford) served on the UNC Board of Governors for nearly a decade, from 2001-2010. She is also a member of the state’s Education/Higher Education committee. Asked about the manner in which Crabtree was hired this week, Robinson said the step away from precedent is troubling.

UNC System President Peter Hans.

“We’ve traditionally done a national search for a position that important to make sure we choose someone who can compete nationally and to be sure that we hire the very best that the market has to offer,” Robinson said. “You can’t get the best candidate if you don’t compare them to other applicants.”

“With the reputation that PBS NC has, I would imagine you would have a lot of people all across the nation interested in that position,” Robinson said.

PBS NC, the four-channel public television network reaching all 100 of North Carolina counties was, until last year, known as UNC-TV. Reaching more than 14 million viewers in North Carolina and surrounding states, is the third-largest PBS member station in the nation and has an annual budget of about $30 million.

According to state statute, the UNC System president recommends the station’s CEO, and the UNC Board of Governors then votes on that person. But for the past 30 years, the system has held national searches for the position. Taking that step reduced the likelihood of cronyism or political patronage in executive level hires, Robinson said.

“You’re looking for the best possible hire that you can get anywhere,” Robinson said. “This shouldn’t be a situation where you just hire someone you know, that you’re comfortable with, maybe someone you are friendly with and who has a good reputation. That’s not how this process should work.”

Crabtree himself did not return calls or emails from Policy Watch this week. Doug Strasnick, his chief of staff, said he was out of town at a public media conference. Crabtree did not attend Thursday’s board of governors meeting.

Jack Clayton, chair of the PBS NC board of trustees did not return calls or emails. UNC System staff said Hans was unavailable to comment on the process until Thursday, after the vote had been taken. Several members of the UNC board of governors declined to comment, citing concerns about personnel privacy.

“There is a reason that there’s been a national search for these positions for so long,” Robinson said. “There’s a history there.” Read more