Re: Plagiarism at Chapel Hill High
One can argue that Chapel Hill High Principal Sulura Jackson is an educator as well as an administrator, but none of her communications cited as containing plagiarized content were presented by Jackson as being original scholarship. A resignation letter is not a work of scholarship; the prohibition against plagiarism does not apply to a letter that is administrative in nature. Only if she passes off others' scholarly work as her own scholarly work would she be guilty of failing to lead her students by example. Barring evidence of that, there is no story here. I suspect her apology to her constituents was a pragmatic act to defuse a controversy that at its core—to borrow a phrase for those keeping score—was much ado about nothing.
Re: Gun Violence
As a long-term participant/observer of the gun violence debate, I've come to believe that there are several assumptions most of us share: The death or maiming of anyone through misuse of a firearm is tragic and has long-term consequences for survivors; everyone wants to be able to keep him/ herself and family and loved ones safe; we cannot through legislation alone prevent instances of inappropriate use of guns.
I am equally convinced that any resolution to the problem of gun violence in America will not be quick or easy. There are nearly as many privately held guns in the U.S. as there are people (roughly 300 million). Law enforcement officials estimate that more than half a million guns are lost or stolen each year. The useful life of a properly maintained gun and properly stored ammunition can be nearly a century. More than 30,000 people were killed with guns in the U.S. in 2011—nearly two-thirds of those deaths were suicides.
My position on guns has as much to do with personal stories as it does with statistics, though. Two gun-related incidents have most affected me: the 1990s gun murder of a close neighbor's adult son, most likely with a stolen gun; and the 2007 mass shooting/suicide at Virginia Tech, which occurred when I was teaching English in a foreign country where private gun ownership is strictly forbidden.
The reaction of my students there made me realize how much our gun issue affects the image of the United States overseas.
At this anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings, we will need to continue to grieve gun deaths, and continue to share our gun stories.
I attended Friday's year-end Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) meeting.
The commission debated many issues including the language in the rule set for chemical disclosure. At issue was how to make public and when to make public the particular chemicals used in fracking. The chemicals, the commission knows, are hazardous to our drinking water.
So, why wouldn't they be made known to the public? I understand the answer to be because the oil industry has protected them as "trade secret."
The commission discussed how our state could balance the public and the industry interests and came to the conclusion that only in certain circumstances should the chemical makeup be made known. The particular situations aren't clear, but we can assume them to be emergency situations as the rules indicate only certain emergency and health care professionals be provided the information. Even then they would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Operationally, I'm not sure how this would play out. I'll leave that to your creative minds. I suspect it would probably be something like this: "Hey, I keep getting sick and now my little girl has cancer. What is in our drinking water?" to which the industry responds, "Umm, sign the non-disclosure agreement and then we'll pass the request onto our lawyers".
The MEC has a responsibility to the health and financial well-being of the public—not the industry. They report to you and to me—not the industry. It's time we reminded them of this fact and to take care of you and me, the residents of North Carolina.