Briana: The tale of American guns and foreign deaths

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I guess you could call this trickle-down economics, albeit of a deadly form:

She preyed on the parish of Clarendon, carrying out nine confirmed kills, including a double homicide outside a bar, the killing of a father at a wake and the murder of a single mother of three. Her violence was indiscriminate: She shot and nearly killed a 14-year-old girl getting ready for church. With few clues to identify her, the police named her Briana. They knew only her country of origin — the United States — where she had been virtually untraceable since 1991.

Briana, serial number 245PN70462, was a 9-millimeter Browning handgun.

As many of you already know, I served in the Army for several years. I taught weapons and tactics to foreign military and Guard/Reserve/ROTC here in the States. A few years after I left the service, I purchased a couple of weapons, a Russian Makarov pistol and a Chinese (Army issue) SKS 7.62 assault rifle. I did not have a weapon safe to store them in, but I did have trigger locks on both. I simply couldn't imagine anyone breaking into my home, but they did, in the middle of the daytime. And yes, over the years I have lost sleep worrying about what those weapons may have been used for. I wish other Americans worried about that too:

Monday News: We'll see how this goes...

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ASSOCIATION HEALTH PLANS BECOMES LAW WITHOUT GOV'S SIGNATURE: While the bill does not remove health care coverage from people with pre-existing conditions, a News & Observer fact check included experts pointing out that insurers aren’t required to offer association health plans with a full range of services for people with pre-existing conditions. Cooper didn’t veto the bill, but he didn’t sign it either. He released this statement on Sunday: “People have a right to be frustrated with the cost of private health insurance plans, but even though there is significant bipartisan support for this legislation, my concerns about the legality of these cheaper plans and their potential negative effects on health care prevent me from signing the bill.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article234368932.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NC SUPREME COURT SHOULD END RACIAL BIAS IN JURY SELECTION: North Carolina is one of very few states where appeals courts have never acknowledged discrimination against a juror of color and have allowed prosecutors to offer reasons for striking black jurors that are vague, suspect, and difficult to verify: the juror didn’t make eye contact, had an unusual hairstyle, or said “yeah” instead of “yes.” This week, North Carolina has a chance to confront a problem that has haunted the state for too long. The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear arguments on August 26 and 27 about the North Carolina Racial Justice Act (RJA). This groundbreaking law allowed people on death row to present evidence that racial bias played a role in their death sentences. After the law’s passage in 2009, a study of capital trials found that prosecutors removed qualified black jurors at more than twice the rate of white jurors. Thus, nearly half of North Carolina’s death row prisoners were tried by all-white juries or juries with only one person of color. If you doubt that the racial makeup of juries matters, remember that all-white juries have sent dozens of innocent black men to death row, including some of my clients.
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article234076852.html

Drilling down into Gov. Cooper's Veto of Read to Achieve reboot

An expensive boondoggle, by any other name:

The state has put more than $150 million into the program to date, and a study last year by North Carolina State University found no gains for the first year of students involved.

"Teaching children to read well is a critical goal for their future success, but recent evaluations show that Read to Achieve is ineffective and costly," Cooper said in his veto message. "This legislation tries to put a Band-Aid on a program where implementation has clearly failed."

It has failed. Not "performed below our expectations," but failed, miserably. NC State followed two separate cohorts of students who took part in the RtA program, and detected virtually no improvement with them as compared to those who did not take part:

Saturday News: Orange Clown

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TRUMP HEADED TO NC TO CAMPAIGN FOR DAN BISHOP: “Looking forward to soon being in North Carolina to hold a big rally for wonderful Dan Bishop, who is running for Congress,” Trump tweeted. “His opponent wants Open Borders, Sanctuary Cities, and Socialism. He likes the “Squad” more than North Carolina.” Bishop is running against Democrat Dan McCready and two third-party candidates in the Sept. 10 special election. Early voting started this week. McCready responded in a tweet of his own. “I didn’t come back from Iraq to see my country torn apart by petty lies and insults,” wrote McCready, a former Marine. “Let’s show them what real leadership looks like. . .”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article234306112.html

Republicans want to buy you for 34 cents a day. Tell them "no."

Here's an action you can take ... courtesy of WRAL:

When it comes to North Carolina’s budget surplus, here are some numbers the legislature’s leadership doesn’t want you to understand:

  • $17,680 a day – That’s the per diem ($104 to every member of the General Assembly) we spend while Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore procrastinate to block a vote sustaining Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget.
  • 34 cents a day – That’s what each taxpayer gets (if extended over a year) under the $640 million scheme Berger and Moore announced to send 5.1 million taxpayers checks for $125.
  • $5.6 million -- That’s the ADDED COST Berger and Moore didn’t mention to do all this. It takes $2.8 million to process the checks and another $2.8 million for first-class postage.

We all know there are far better ways to spend this money and we want our legislators to be careful stewards of the state. That means making sure our tax dollars are spent to make our state healthy, educated and prosperous. These leaders have confessed, to The New York Times, that “we simply don’t have the money” to meet many of those obligations.

Racial Injustice: NC Supreme Court to decide Death Row cases

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Elections definitely have consequences:

With the racial-justice act out of the picture, the state appealed the re-sentencings in the four cases that had been decided under it, and in 2015, the North Carolina Supreme Court sent the cases back for further review, because the state had not been given enough time to respond to the Michigan State study on biased juror strikes.

Shortly after, state officials disregarded the state Supreme Court’s order and returned the four plaintiffs to death row without a court holding hearings or considering new evidence or arguments. The state still has not provided any explanation for the racial discrepancy in juror strikes, arguing only that the repeal of the law means the plaintiffs go back to death row.

This is (or should be) really a no-brainer for the Supreme Court. Prosecutors ignored their instructions to let the courts straighten things out, and in doing so, they literally usurped those judicial powers. The RJA cases *did not* free those inmates, they would still be incarcerated for life (without parole). And NC's defacto moratorium on executions should not be even considered in these cases. That could change at the drop of a hat, with unfairly prosecuted citizens receiving lethal injections. Once again for those in the back:

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