• GUNS IN AMERICA

    The following data is designed to provide a summary of exactly what we’re dealing with in America.  Though the list is lengthy, it tells a story.

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    What are the statistics on gun violence so far in 2018?

    7,036 – the number of gun violence incidents this year through Saturday, Feb. 17
    1,939 – the number of deaths this year
    3,353 – the number of injuries
    71 – the number of children (ages 0-11) killed or injured
    379 – the number of teens (ages 12-17) killed or injured
    32 – mass shootings
    41 – officer involved incidents in which an officer was shot or killed
    312 – officer involved incident in which a subject or suspect was shot or killed
    285 – home invasions involving guns
    194 – incidents with a defensive use of a gun
    229 – unintentional shootings

    A Guide to Mass Shootings in America

    There have been at least 97 in the past 35 years – and most of the killers got their guns legally.

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    It is perhaps too easy to forget how many times this has happened.

    The weapons: Of the 143 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally. The arsenal included dozens of assault weapons and semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines.

    The perpetrators: More than half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (12 and 20, respectively); the other 30 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, and religious and government buildings. Forty-four of the killers were white males. Only one was a woman. The average age of the killers was 35, though the youngest among them was a mere 11 years old. A majority were mentally troubled-and many displayed signs of mental health problems before setting out to kill. (Note that mass shootings represent only a sliver of America’s overall gun violence.)

    THIS DATA REPRESENTS A SUMMARY.  TO VIEW THE FULL DATA SPREADSHEET,  CLICK HERE.

  • What’s the Furor over the Atlantic Coast Pipeline all about?

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    Risky and Unnecessary Natural Gas Pipelines Threaten Our Region
    Rivers, streams and forests are in the crosshairs of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a proposed interstate gas pipeline, which would cut through one of the most intact conservation landscapes in the Southeast in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina to move natural gas from the well-fields to Mid-Atlantic and Southeast customers. Its route includes remote sections of the George Washington and Monongahela national forests.
    Dominion Energy and Duke Energy are rushing forward with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline even though it lacks strong market support, and they plan to pass the cost of this pipeline on to their customers. This unnecessary pipeline will not only harm the mountains, forests and waterways in its path – it will also disrupt the lives of the people living and working along its 600-mile-long route and lock a new generation into decades more of fossil fuel consumption.
    A central argument against the pipeline is the growing evidence that the project is not necessary. In the three years since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was proposed its justification as a fuel source for gas-fired power plants has continued to erode. New analysis shows that demand for gas-fired electricity generation is not growing in our region and is not expect to grow significantly for the foreseeable future.
    Other concerns include the impact on water quality, and concerns about the risks to agricultural and rural communities, including damage to scenic landscapes and the risk of pollution.
    [Editor’s note: Critics also note that the proposed route disproportionately impacts Native Americans, including members of the Meherrin, Haliwa-Saponi, Coharie, and Lumbee Tribes of North Carolina. Native Americans make up over 13% of the population living in census tracts located within one mile the proposed route through North Carolina.]
  • What’s in the immigration bills the Senate is debating?

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    The Senate is currently debating a number of immigration bills ahead of the March 5th deadline to do something about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. That’s the Obama-era initiative, which was later cancelled by President Trump. The program provided legal protections for “Dreamers,” who are immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Mr. Trump ended DACA in September and gave Congress until March 5th to replace it.
    For a DACA replacement to pass in the Senate, it will need 60 votes, meaning that any legislation will require substantial bipartisan support. It would also need to win over a majority of the more conservative House before it arrives on the president’s desk. And Mr. Trump, a noted immigration hawk, has intimated that he will only sign a bill that includes provisions most Democrats abhor, such as funding for a wall along the southern border.
    Here are some of the bills the Senate is debating this week, and why it’ll be difficult for any of them to pass.
    The Secure and Succeed Act: This act is backed by Republican immigration hawks in the Senate, like Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. It adheres closely to the White House’s immigration framework, which was released by the administration ahead of last month’s State of the Union address.  In broad strokes, the bill would provide a path to citizenship for 1.8 million DACA recipients, $25 billion in border security and wall funding, limits on family-based migration, and would eliminate the diversity visa lottery.  The bill’s backers say it’s the only legislation on the table that has a chance of becoming law and is a workable compromise because it protects nearly two million immigrants while also giving immigration hawks the security funding they want.  The bill doesn’t have enough Democratic support.
    McCain-Coons bill:  This bill has been introduced by the bipartisan team of Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. A companion bill in the House has 54 co-sponsors, with an even number of Republicans and Democrats. The bill would provide eventual citizenship for Dreamers. It would also provide money for a study on border security needs. But it neither includes any border wall funding, nor does it seek to curb future immigration by ending the extended family-based migration program, which the White House calls “chain migration.” It also does not end the diversity visa lottery program Mr. Trump dislikes. The measure would provide more resources for immigration courts, which are dealing with severe backlogs. The White House is unlikely to support it.
    Graham-Durbin bill:  The bipartisan proposal was negotiated by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and reached in January. It would appropriate $2.7 billion in border security improvements, eliminate the diversity lottery program and would target the chain migration system. It would also provide a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” and would define eligibility criteria, including that recipients must have entered the U.S. by June 15, 2012. According to a spokesman for Graham, the plan would include $1.6 billion for a “border wall/barriers/fencing.”
    The White House rejects this plan.
    DREAM Act:  Most recently introduced by Graham, Durbin, and Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, the latest version of the DREAM Act would essentially codify the protections former President Barack Obama created for young immigrants. It would also provide a path to citizenship for those young immigrants.   However, it doesn’t have wall funding White House wants: The president has tweeted that any DACA deal that doesn’t include border wall funding is a “total waste of time.” Aside from the White House, conservatives in Congress are also likely to oppose a solution that lacks funding for other border security measures, or any additional restrictions on future immigration.
  • Four Moore County Candidates File for Office

  • What’s hidden in the Senate Spending Bill

     

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    Tucked into the Senate budget bill are a host of provisions that help a broad array of industries and sectors, including energy, health care and education, through increased spending and tax credits.

    The Senate deal would raise strict spending caps on domestic and military spending in this fiscal year and the next by about $300 billion. It would also lift the federal debt limit until March 2019 and provide nearly $90 billion in disaster relief to deal with last year’s fires and hurricanes.

    It also includes a series of unexpected spending increases, including restoring some provisions that were jettisoned from last year’s $1.5 trillion tax package. And the bill includes an extension of 48 different tax credits that expired at the end of 2016, including several incentives meant to help particular sectors like mining and horse racing.

    Budget Deficits Are Projected to Balloon Under the Bipartisan Spending Deal

    The two-year budget agreement passed by Congress early Friday is projected to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to federal deficits.

    The deal increases spending for bipartisan priorities.

    Republicans have pushed for a boost in military spending, while Democrats have long argued for similar increases for domestic programs. The deal includes more spending for both for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.

     

    The deal primarily affects discretionary spending, which makes up about one-third of the federal budget and does not include entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.

    But it will contribute to rising deficits and debt …

    According to a preliminary analysis of the deal, federal deficits are projected surpass $1 trillion by 2019, a level not seen since the recession and its aftermath.

     

    Deficits will grow even more if the policies in the deal are extended beyond 2019. Lawmakers have also promised that individual tax cuts passed in December that are set to expire after 10 years will be extended, which would put even more pressure on the federal debt.

     

    … and will break through spending caps for military and domestic programs.

    The caps, which Congress set for itself in 2011, will be surpassed by about $300 billion over two years, significantly more than in the past.

     

    The deal includes:

    *$90 billion in disaster relief

    *$20 billion for infrastructure projects

    *$6 billion to combat the opioid crisis

    *$5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant program

    *$2 billion for National Institutes of Health (NIH) research

    It will also: 

     

    *Increase the debt limit through March 1, 2019

    *Authorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for

    * an additional four years (on top of a recent six-year extension)

    *Extend 48 different tax credits for one year

    *Reauthorize Community Health Centers for two years

    *Makes structural changes to Medicare

    *Repeal an independent medical advisory board established under the Affordable Care Act to control Medicare spending

    *Create a new committee on pension solvency

     

    What’s Next in the Fight to Protect Dreamers

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    On September 5, 2017, Donald Trump eliminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This Obama-era program has offered a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who have grown up in the U.S. They are Americans, plain and simple, and now they’re being held hostage by Donald Trump and Stephen Miller as leverage for the White House’s nativist immigration demands. Donald Trump has rejected multiple bipartisan agreements that would have provided relief for Dreamers and also met the Department of Homeland Security’s requests on security. Instead, Trump is pushing for a proposal that would provide $25 billion for his border wall, ramp up deportations, and drastically limit family reunification.

    The fight for Dreamers isn’t over, but the path forward is highly uncertain.

    Get ready for a possible defensive fight over the Dream Act. Up next in the Senate? Standalone immigration bills, which are a risky proposition in this Congress. Conservative Republicans are pouncing on the opportunity to work on immigration and have proposed several nativist bills, demanding that they receive a vote. It appears that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are allowing Republicans to pursue an immigration bill that is separate from government spending bills. This all but ensures that the final package will be an extreme, enforcement-heavy proposal that immigrant rights organizations will oppose.

    This means that instead of getting a narrow, reasonable DACA fix, we could find ourselves trying to stop an anti-immigrant bill from getting through Congress. It’s still too early to tell, but this is likelier at this point than the Dream Act we all want.

    What about the McCain-Coons proposal? The McCain-Coons proposal is helpful in that it actually seeks to address the DACA crisis, and highlights just how extreme the alternative proposals are, but it is unlikely to move in this Republican-controlled Congress. Despite what you might be hearing, the negotiations in Congress have stalled. In fact, negotiations have steadily deteriorated since the bipartisan deal reached by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) back in December. Most of the current proposals go beyond the DACA fix we need and add anti-immigrant provisions more consistent with the White House’s framework. Those conservative proposals would empower ICE and other immigration officials to more quickly remove and jail immigrants, effectively requiring that Dreamers sacrifice the safety of their parents. It is too high a price to pay.

     

    What You Can Do To Help Dreamers…  (click here to read more)