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Opinion Roundup: An environmental wake-up call for N.C. hog farms, waterways

Posted July 6

Ashley Wolford, deputy manager of equine cruelty for the HSUS, works near a pig during the Humane Society of the United States animal rescue in Pittsboro, N.C., on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. (Chris Keane/AP Images for The Humane Society)

Thursday, July 6, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the environmental effects of North Carolina hog farming, the state's struggle to create good-paying jobs, why migrants are the key to future N.C. economic growth and more.

KEN FINE & ERICA HELLERSTEIN: Hogwashed: Environmental Advocates Say Hog Facilities’ Antiquated Waste-Disposal Systems Are Threatening the State’s Waterways (IndyWeek analysis) --This is the second installment of a three-part investigation into North Carolina's hog-farming industry. This installment looks at the environmental impacts hog farming has had over the last two decades, particularly on waterways such as the Neuse River. The final piece will discuss ways to make the multibillion-dollar hog industry more sustainable, both for the environment and the state's rural population, and the political and financial reasons those steps have not been taken. The first story examined claims by lower-income African-American residents of eastern North Carolina that neighboring hog farms have polluted their properties and efforts by lawmakers to shield pork producers from litigation.


EMERY DALESIO: Middle-class wage crunch worst in North Carolina (AP Analysis) -- The collapse of middle-class jobs since the turn of the 21st Century has been worse in North Carolina than the rest of the country, a university economist says in an upcoming book forecasting the state's future. While the number of middle-class jobs rose by 6 percent nationwide between 2001 and 2015, there were 5 percent fewer in North Carolina. Meanwhile, high- and low-paying jobs each increased in North Carolina by more than 25 percent, up to three times faster than the rest of the country.


N.C. needs migrants (Greensboro News & Record) -- What if people began to move back to North Carolina’s small towns and rural areas? What if they started family farms, the kind people have been leaving for decades?


ALEX GRANADOS: EdExplainer – Long session legislative recap (EdNC Analysis) -- The long session of the General Assembly wrapped up last week, and education was a hot topic throughout. The budget and a slew of bills focused on changing the education landscape in North Carolina, covering topics like principal pay, charter schools, the educator preparation system, and more. Here are highlights of the just-completed session:


DOUGLAS PRICE: Importance of socio-emotional development in pre-K (EdNC column) -- During my 10 years as an educator, I have taught middle school, elementary, and pre-K. I earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and have witnessed the continuum of the effects that pre-K can have on a student. The most common issue I see students struggling with today is perseverance, demonstrated by the social-emotional stamina students need as they work up to their capacity for learning.


MICHELLE WAGNER: Dare Ed Board elections to become partisan affairs (Outer Banks Sentinel) -- New law pits state legislators against county officials.


Stopped bus bill has no teeth (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- The good news: A bill awaiting Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature found the solution to the most legally dubious aspect of using automated camera systems to enforce traffic laws. The bad news: Weak language makes it a mere suggestion, not the ironclad requirement it should be.


Lawmakers send hits, misses to Fayetteville (Fayetteville Observer) -- The big picture of the state legislative session that ended — or at least was put on hold — last week was pretty clear: There’s no beating Republicans in the game of power politics. Just as it was for the best part of a century under a Democratic majority, the GOP kept a tight grip on power and the purse, and all the big things went the party’s way. That includes the important decisions on the budget, on taxes and on major legislative initiatives.


SARAH FENTEM: Spending on Opioid Addiction Medications Rose Sharply Since 2011 (N.C. Health News analysis) -- As the number of people using opioids climbed in the past decade, spending on treatment for those people climbed to close to $1 billion.


ROBERT PEAR: White House Backs Conservative Health Plan, but G.O.P. Leaders Are Leery (New York Times analysis) -- The White House is backing Sen. Ted Cruz’s health care proposal making it easier for insurance companies to avoid complying with consumer protection standards, though Senate Republican leaders remain leery of the idea. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Marc Short, President Trump’s director of legislative affairs, said they supported the proposal. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and the leader of the House Freedom Caucus, said on Twitter that he’d back the Senate’s bill if it included the Cruz plan.


RICK SMITH: Kenan Trust awards $1.5M to UNC for rural health program (WRAL-TV TechWire) -- The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust has awarded the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $1.5 million to establish clinical experiences for health professions students in rural areas of the state, launching the UNC Rural Interprofessional Health Initiative.


NICHOLAS KRISTOF: IN REMOTE VILLAGE: WITNESSING MIRACLES (New York Times column) -- Miracles are rare these days, but I’ve seen them. In a village in rural Liberia, I came across a grandma, a mom and a baby daughter all afflicted by clubfoot. This is a common birth defect in which one or both feet are grotesquely turned inward. Yet this baby had her feet fixed with a simple nonsurgical treatment involving a series of plaster casts to guide the foot into the proper position. This approach, called the Ponseti method, is routine in Western countries and is increasingly available in poor countries as well, through aid groups like MiracleFeet, based in North Carolina, and Cure, based in Pennsylvania.


EMMARIE HUETTEMAN: Democrats Court Military Veterans in Effort to Reclaim House (New York Times analysis) -- With President Donald Trump’s approval ratings hovering around record lows for this point in a presidency, formidable candidates are lining up even in Republican strongholds. One of those is a southern chunk of North Carolina where Dan McCready, a Marine Corps veteran and businessman, hopes to be the first Democrat to win since the 1960s.


Delay gives states’ convention call a second chance (Wilson Times) -- A grassroots movement to rein in the federal government suffered a setback before the N.C. General Assembly’s Fourth of July recess, but lawmakers didn’t close the door on calling for a Convention of States.


NEEL KELLER: A space oddity (Outer Banks Sentinel column) -- A battle brews over the Frisco UFO House.


WESLEY MORRIS & HENNA WORTHAM: Who has the right to make barbecue? (New York Times column) -- We ventured out to Tyson Ho’s restaurant to sample the goods and talk to him about how he came to man a Carolina-style barbecue pit in the middle of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

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