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Opinion Roundup: Defending our privacy at the polls

Posted July 5

Voters line up outside Dillard Drive Elementary in Raleigh on Nov. 8, 2016.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the Trump administration's election integrity commission, efforts at local and national levels to combat the opioid crisis, unfinished renewable energy issues in the state legislature and more.

No to private data (Greensboro News & Record) -- If you’re a registered voter in North Carolina, some information about you is a public record. Anyone can look up your party affiliation and find out when you voted and when you didn’t.


Confronting opioids (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a legislative act into law that confronts the growing opioid problem in this state.


STEPHANIE CARSON: As NC Fights Opioid Epidemic, Could Congress Dismantle Progress? (Public News Service column) -- Gov. Roy Cooper recently initiated large-scale attempts to curb opioid abuse in North Carolina. The governor announced the state's new action plan to more closely regulate painkillers as part of last week's Opioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention Summit. At the same time, Mandy Cohen, North Carolina's secretary of Health and Human Services, and others are concerned about the potential loss of health insurance and funding for treatment programs if the U.S. Senate's "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" makes it through Congress. Cohen said it would negate steps toward progress.


KIRK ROSS: Legislature Pauses, Environmental Bills Wait (Coastal Review analysis) -- While solar industry changes and a wind project moratorium passed, bills with coastal stormwater changes, the creation of a new fund to pay for beach re-nourishment, new dredging plans and repeal of the plastic bag ban on the Outer Banks remain on the table.


SHERYL GAY STOLBERG & CAITLIN DICKERSON: Hangman’s Noose, Symbol of Racial Animus, Keeps Cropping Up (New York Times analysis) -- Nooses, long a powerful symbol of bigotry and hatred directed at African-Americans, have been found hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum on the National Mall; in a gallery at the National Museum of African American History and Culture; outside an elementary school; and on the campus of American University, where bananas with hateful messages were found hanging from nooses on the same day that a black woman was set to assume the presidency of the university’s Student Government Association. Nooses have also been found in recent months at a high school in North Carolina, a middle school in Florida, and at a fraternity house at the University of Maryland. Also in Maryland, two 19-year-olds are being prosecuted in the hanging of a noose from a light fixture outside a middle school.


Are we a New South? Sadly, no (Charlotte Observer) -- Rabbi Judy Schindler assesses how far Charlotte and the South have come on race relations – and is disappointed.


KAREN CHAVEZ: Nonprofit helps landowners blend economics and ecology (Asheville Citizen-Times analysis) -- Private forest landowners are caught in a conundrum: how to keep their forests healthy while deriving income. Should they log, open for hiking trails or mushroom foraging, or develop luxury home sites? Enter EcoForesters. The recently established Asheville nonprofit works with private forest owners to manage their property for forest health and sustainability, while also making some money. The work is imperative, said founder and president Rob Lamb.


ROSE HOBAN: Helping Farmers Care for Their Number One Asset: Themselves (N.C. Health News analysis) -- East Carolina University's Agromedicine Institute reaches out to farmers to help them stay healthy as they perform grueling and often dangerous work.


D.G. MARTIN: Don’t let the riptide of angry politics pull you under (Durham Herald-Sun column) -- What is the biggest challenge that we, as individuals, face in this time of angry, petty, and deceptive politics that has infected our public life and seems to be pulling each of us under, sucking out of us every ounce of our humanity? It is as if we are in an angry and turbulent ocean. The riptide is carrying us away from shore, and even as we fight with all our strength, it is still pulling us under.


RENE GOUVERNEUR: Kindergarten teacher explains what high-quality pre-K looks like (EdNC column) -- As a veteran kindergarten teacher, I believe the time has come to invest in high-quality universal pre-K education. The short- and long-term benefits of high-quality early childhood education are well documented. Money spent to fund early childhood education is also a good investment.


JOANNA SCHIMIZZI: Long and short of failing our kids: Focusing on early childhood education (EdNC column) -- Suddenly, teaching reading feels like rocket science! Dr. Louisa Marks studies the complex data that explains which skills students need to learn to read. In addition to phonemic awareness, there is phonological awareness, fluency, and other components, like text comprehension and tiers of vocabulary. Read Charlotte, a local advocacy group, shares that children who are not reading at grade level by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Suddenly, there are high stakes for getting my son (and all children) to be successful readers.


KEITH MARTIN: With focus on teachers, remember these national stars (Charlotte Observer column) -- Local Blumey winners fare well at the Jimmys, and their teachers deserve credit.


GEORGE YANCY & NOAM CHOMSKY: On Trump and the State of the Union (New York Times column) -- Noam Chomsky: We have to be a little cautious about not trying to kill a gnat with an atom bomb. The performances are so utterly absurd regarding the “post-truth” moment that the proper response might best be ridicule. For example, Stephen Colbert’s recent comment is apropos: When the Republican legislature of North Carolina responded to a scientific study predicting a threatening rise in sea level by barring state and local agencies from developing regulations or planning documents to address the problem, Colbert responded: “This is a brilliant solution. If your science gives you a result that you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.”


PUBLIC POLICY POLLING: Senate health care bill and Sen. Tillis way under water in new N.C. poll (Public Policy Polling survey) – If the election were today, more North Carolinians would vote for Thom Tillis’ Democratic opponent than return the Republican to the U.S. Senate; 53% disapprove of the plan in the U.S. Senate to repeal and replace Obamacare and the same percent want the Senate to fix and improve the current health care law.


DAVID POST: Supreme Court unanimously overturns North Carolina’s ban on social-media use by sex offenders (Washington Post column) -- A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court rurled 8-0 in Packingham v. North Carolina that a state law prohibiting previously convicted sex offenders from social networking websites violates the First Amendment. The Volokh Conspiracy had more involvement in this case (on the victorious side, I’m happy to note) than usual; Eugene Volokh and a number of his students at UCLA’s Amicus Clinic wrote an amicus brief supporting the grant of certiorari (a brief that I joined, along with a number of other law professors), and, after the Court granted cert, I wrote (along with Perry Grossman) an amicus brief supporting the petitioner for several tech policy organizations (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Center for Democracy and Technology).


D.G. MARTIN: Four books that will rock your world (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- If you are willing to be both entertained and disturbed by your summer vacation books, I have four new volumes for your consideration: two books by important photographers and two literary mysteries that raise important public policy issues.


LIZ SCHLEMMER: Rural Roads, Bridges In NC Among Nation's Most Dangerous (WUNC-FM analysis) -- North Carolina had the third-highest sheer number of rural traffic fatalities in the country in 2015, according to data collected by the Federal Highway Administration.


Happy Fourth of July! Show Us Your Papers (New York Times) -- States rightly gave Trump’s voter-fraud commission the back of their hand.


JAY PRICE: Retreat For Combat Veterans Coming To Fayetteville Area (WUNC-FM analysis) -- A non-profit group started by a Navy Seal who was involved in one of the most famous incidents of the war in Afghanistan is about to start building a retreat for combat veterans and their families near Fayetteville.


Free speech bill a reason to cheer on Fourth of July (Wilson Times) -- Just in time for Independence Day, state lawmakers signed off on a bill to protect a fundamental American freedom for young citizens. House Bill 527, the Restore and Preserve Campus Free Speech Act, was ratified Thursday.


SARAH LANGER HALL: Innovate GSO is only beginning (Greensboro News & Record column) -- Building a community’s inclusive innovation economy is hard work, but cities across the state can learn from Greensboro’s lead.


LIZ SCHLEMMER: Global Warming Threatens North Carolina's Bees (WUNC-FM analysis) -- Global warming and urbanization are threatening bee populations across the country. One factor in that threat is heat. At high temperatures, bees become unable to reproduce, fly or even walk. So researchers from North Carolina State University recently set out to see just how much heat local wild bees could handle.

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