How to crush a brand: Toyota's sell out to Trump

I had been planning to buy a new used car this fall, my mind was set on a new Corolla hybrid. And then I read that Toyota had sided with Trump against the state of California on emission standards. My purchase is off.

Toyota has long been a leader in fuel economy and is most likely well-positioned no matter what happens between California and the federal government. The company didn't have to do anything at all, but instead it caved to threats from the Trump administration. It was a stupid move by any measure, and it will cost Toyota dearly. They may have a reputation for quality and efficiency, but now they also have a reputation for folding like a cheap suit. This move has already cost them one sale, and it appears I'm not alone.

After S559 is amended, Duke Energy pushes for rate increases

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There's more than one way to skin a ratepayer:

Duke Energy has asked state regulators to approve an average 12.3% rate increase for its division serving eastern North Carolina and the Asheville area. The filing Wednesday with the North Carolina Utilities Commission seeks an additional $464 million to pay for retiring coal plants, closing coal ash dumps, and improving the electric grid.

Duke says residential rates would rise an average 14.3%, if approved by regulators. A typical customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity monthly would pay about $17 more, or a total of about $138.

Don't let that "Ashevillle" area thing fool you; a healthy chunk of the people affected are not young urban professionals. Both Eastern and Western North Carolina suffer heavily from poverty, and this increase will push even more folks over that ledge. A higher electric bill *will* take food off the tables of many, especially those on a fixed income:

Thursday News: Divide and conquer

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GOP IS NOW TRYING TO BLATANTLY BRIBE SENATE DEMS TO OVERRIDE: Republicans in the General Assembly are offering Democrats a deal that would mean raises for teachers and some other state employees if the state budget becomes law. North Carolina teachers could get the 3.9% raises over the next two years that are in the state budget, which includes step increases for longevity, or an additional raise that would bring the total raise to 4.4% if Democrats vote with Republicans to override the governor’s veto of the budget, Republican General Assembly leaders announced Wednesday. The bill will be considered by the legislature on Thursday, Oct. 31, the day the Senate previously announced it would adjourn for a few weeks or more.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article236823563.html

Berger's Blunder: Read To Achieve has completely failed

But that should come as no surprise to teachers and administrators:

While improving reading outcomes is a worthy goal, it was obvious from the beginning that Read to Achieve lacked the educator’s touch. The initiative attempted to improve reading by increasing the volume of assessments in grades K-3 and ratcheting up the threats of retention, essentially punishing children for not being able to read well enough in early grades. It’s not the approach an effective teacher would take.

DPI warned the General Assembly that the volume of assessments the legislation added to 3rd grade was too high and that the pace and funding of implementation didn’t provide enough professional development for teachers to effectively transition to the new system. The General Assembly had also slashed Pre-K funding 25% from pre-recession levels at the time, and DPI informed legislators that quality early childhood education was one of the most important components of building a foundation for literacy. All of that feedback fell largely on deaf ears.

No big surprise at all. The GOP's operating mantra has been, "My bad policy is greater than even the best policies of other people. And if my policy ends up failing, it can easily be blamed on those other people for not properly supporting it." Just to give you an idea of the consequences of this mandated program, here's an excerpt of the letter sent to parents explaining it:

Wednesday News: Don't be a dick, Burr

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RICHARD BURR COMES UNDER FIRE FOR WANTING TO TAX ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS: From a Playboy reporter to the publisher of a conservative magazine, Burr drew fierce pushback on Tuesday for a tweet about how the government should treat student-athletes. “If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income. I’ll be introducing legislation that subjects scholarships given to athletes who choose to ‘cash in’ to income taxes.” Roughly an hour after Burr tweeted, his comment generated 6,000 responses -- most of them negative -- and less than 900 “likes.” The criticism came from the left and the right. “You could sell a t-shirt with your own smiling face on it to your friends and (Burr) would want to tax your scholarship. What a stupid backwards garbage idea,” tweeted Ben Domenech, co-founder of The Federalist, a conservative website.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article236789618.html

Tuesday News: Better start drawing...

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NC'S CONGRESSIONAL MAPS THROWN OUT BY 3-JUDGE PANEL: The legislature must now redraw the state’s 13 U.S. House districts. The judge — two Democrats and one Republican from different parts of North Carolina — wrote that the maps show signs of “extreme partisan gerrymandering” which “is contrary to the fundamental right of North Carolina citizens to have elections conducted freely and honestly to ascertain, fairly and truthfully, the will of the people.” Monday’s ruling, a preliminary injunction, said the state may not hold any elections for Congress using the current maps passed in 2016. Those maps replaced a different set of maps from 2011, also drawn by the Republican-led legislature, which were struck down as unconstitutional racial gerrymandering. The judges ruled that if there aren’t new maps in time for the primary elections on March 3 then they could delay all or some of the primaries until later in 2020.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article236752543.html

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