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School truancy laws jail parents and levy excessive fines

We are now five years out from the worst financial crisis in modern history, and still the yoke around the neck of the average American seems to tighten with every new tax, fine, fee and law adopted by our so-called representatives. Meanwhile, the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) and the agencies under their command—Defense, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, etc.—have switched their allegiance to the Corporate State with its unassailable pursuit of profit at all costs and by any means possible.


From time to time throughout history, individuals have been subjected to charges (and eventual punishment) by accusers whose testimony was treated as infallible and inerrant. Once again, we find ourselves repeating history, only this time, it’s the police whose testimony is too often considered beyond reproach and whose accusations have the power to render one’s life over.

In the police state being erected around us, the police can probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts. Making matters worse, however, police dogs—cute, furry, tail-wagging mascots with a badge—have now been elevated to the ranks of inerrant, infallible sanctimonious accusers with the power of the state behind them. This is largely due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Florida v. Harris, in which a unanimous Court declared roadside stops to be Constitution-free zones where police may search our vehicles based upon a hunch and the presence of a frisky canine.


A well-known psychological test that can be viewed on the internet involves a video that has people dressed in black and others dressed in white passing a basketball around. The stated objective of the test is to count the number of passes made by those in white. The real purpose of the experiment is to see if you notice the person in the gorilla suit who mingles with the group. For about half the people who take the “Invisible Gorilla Test,” the gorilla is in fact, “invisible.” Psychologists label this phenomenon as “inattentional blindness,” resulting from focusing on something too hard.

The concept of inattentional blindness reminds me of those who argue for protection of second amendment rights while ignoring the erosion of others. For some, the only metric that matters is the possession of firearms. Somehow, as long as you are armed, you are free, because if government totally trashes the concepts of Jefferson and Washington, you have Smith & Wesson to back you up. Of course, the firepower and resources of the government are a bit more extensive than that of its citizenry.


Long-term farm bill would boost N.C.’s largest industry

Every year, Larry Bailey mows hay and grows 100 acres of soybeans on his farm in Rutherford County. Nearly 300 miles across our state, in Duplin County, third-generation farmer Larry Shaw tends to hundreds of acres of corn. And in Halifax County, near the Virginia border in northeastern North Carolina, Jerry Hamill grows peanuts that Americans enjoy in ballparks every summer.

Each of these farmers contributes to a bedrock institution of our North Carolina culture and economy. I believe it is imperative that we support this key North Carolina industry so that it can thrive for generations to come.



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