by Ken Fine
For the first 10 weeks of President Trump’s administration, no adviser loomed larger in the public imagination than Stephen K. Bannon, the raw and rumpled former chairman of Breitbart News who considers himself a “virulently anti-establishment” revolutionary out to destroy the “administrative state.”One less white nationalist on the National Security Council seems like a good way to start a day. Of course, Bannon is still a top White House strategist, and, at least to some degree, he still has the president’s ear on foreign policy.
But behind the scenes, White House officials said, the ideologist who enjoyed the president’s confidence became increasingly embattled as other advisers, including Mr. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, complained about setbacks on health care and immigration. Lately, Mr. Bannon has been conspicuously absent from some meetings. And now he has lost his seat at the national security table.
In a move that was widely seen as a sign of changing fortunes, Mr. Trump removed Mr. Bannon, his chief strategist, from the National Security Council’s cabinet-level “principals committee” on Wednesday. The shift was orchestrated by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, who insisted on purging a political adviser from the Situation Room where decisions about war and peace are made.
As the INDY reported last week, HB 467 is moving quickly despite concerns that it would affect pending litigation filed by hundreds of landowners against commercial hog farmers. The "Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies" bill would prevent those plaintiffs from recovering damages that aren't property-value-related, including health and nuisance damages resulting from hog waste. Under the bill, property owners would most likely only be able to collect a $7,000 cap in damages over a three-year period, and the bill would apply to any lawsuit pending at the time it goes into effect.The lawsuits, Dixon argues, target family farms in his district that are doing nothing wrong. But one former hog farmer wasn’t having it. And it was glorious.
There are currently twenty-six pending federal lawsuits filled against Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. As we reported last week, the bill's sponsors, including Representative Jimmy Dixon, R-Wayne and Duplin, have gotten serious contributions from the pork industry over the years. According to campaign finance records, Dixon has received more than $115,000 in contributions from Big Pork over the course of his career, including $36,250 from donors associated with Murphy-Brown, the company facing more than two dozen federal lawsuits that the bill in question would essentially nullify.
These issues didn't go unnoticed at the hearing. Democratic Representative Robert T. Reives sought to add an amendment stating that the bill would not affect pending litigation. "I'm extremely uncomfortable with the legislature initiating something once a lawsuit has begun," Reives explained.
Unfortunately for Reives and the dozens of farmers suing Murphy-Brown, the amendment failed. And after a series of furious public comments from landowners who would be impacted by the legislation, HB 467 passed.
Don Webb, a former hog farmer from eastern North Carolina, was livid as he addressed the room.A vote on the matter could unfold inside the House today. We'll keep you posted.
"When I found out what I was doing to my neighbors, I got out of the hog industry," he fumed. "It was a feces and urine factory, and not a waste factory. I'm a human being. I'm an American. And an American should not have to smell someone else's feces and urine. And that's what they want to force with this bill. You want to play with my constitutional rights to not be able to sue. You want to take away because I'm not a millionaire. You want to take that right away from me, and other people. You've got no right to do it, and you know it. I'm telling the truth! You know you're wrong."
Looking to undo the fact that there is, thanks to former Governor Pat McCrory, a relatively new body camera law on the books in N.C. that requires a court order in order for the public to gain access to footage captured by the devices, a group of state legislators filed a bill Wednesday that would reverse course.4) Several cities keep travels ban in place as HB 2 deal, they say, is not good enough.
HB 599 would require law enforcement officers "to wear and activate a body-worn camera during interactions with the public" and would also make those recordings public record. The bill would also provide $10 million in matching grant funds to help pay for the devices.
NYC Mayor Bill Di Blasio’s office just tweeted that the city’s travel ban to North Carolina—which went into effect almost immediately after HB 2 passed last March—is still active, despite last week’s repeal of HB 2 and replacement with HB 142.But it didn't stop at the Big Apple.
Around that time, NYC was joined by several other cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, and the states of New York, Washington, Connecticut, Vermont, and Minnesota in similar travel bans to protest HB 2. Those cities have announced that their bans are still in place, though the states have yet to comment.Any word from Springsteen? That's OK. We'll wait.