Good morning folks.

1. Hurricane Matthew is really, really bad.

After killing more than three hundred people in Haiti, Matthew started hitting Florida early this morning, although the eye of the storm is still on the outside of the coast. From CNN:

Matthew — a Category 3 storm with winds of 120 mph at the center — is teetering parallel to the peninsula and heading north-northwest, but still pounding Florida’s east-central coast with dangerous winds and heavy rain. Cape Canaveral recorded a 107 mph gust before 7 a.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said.

Weather experts were watching for the slightest change in Matthew’s unpredictable path, which they say could make an enormous difference to the hurricane’s impact on land.

“The exact path is so critical,” said CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam. “Miles and kilometers really count, because if it wobbles westward by say 30 miles, it brings those strong winds onshore.”

It looks like the brunt of the storm will miss North Carolina, but flooding will still be an issue. Forty-four N.C. counties are currently under alert, and Governor McCrory called a state of emergency for all one hundred counties.

From WRAL:

Gardner said the track of the storm shifted north slightly, which put North Carolina’s Brunswick, Columbus and New Hanover counties back into the forecast fan. Similar to many counties in Florida, the eye of Matthew isn’t expected to make landfall in North Carolina, but it’s still close enough to prompt a state of emergency for coastal towns.

“The impact there will be the rain,” Gardner said. “As it gets closer to us, we’ll have a better chance of more flooding in our viewing area.”

Stay safe out there this weekend, everyone.

2. Hillary Clinton gets an unlikely ally.

North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones has a reputation as one of the more conservative members of the Republican caucus.

Surprisingly, however, Jones is calling on his party’s presidential nominee to adopt one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign goals, to end the influence of big money in politics. From the N&O:

U.S. Rep. Jones, Republican from Eastern North Carolina, who has championed campaign finance reform for years, is among a small group in Congress hoping to elevate to the Supreme Court a recent complaint filed with Federal Election Committee. The complaint challenges campaign fundraising activities by 10 super “PACs” – political action committees which can take in an unlimited amount of donations from companies, individuals and unions but are prohibited from coordinating directly with candidates or political parties.

Activists working on the legal challenge want to eliminate super PACs and effectively undo a previous court decision from Citizens United in 2010. […]

“I’m glad that she’s taken that position and I hope that Donald Trump would do the same thing,” Jones told McClatchy in an interview this week. “The citizen is almost left out (of the political process) … I feel very strongly that money drives policy and it should not be that way.”

Good for Jones. If you need any reminder about how outside money has so thoroughly infected our politics, read our story from last month on the money pouring in from out of state in our attorney general’s race.

3. Speaking of Clinton and Trump…

There’s another debate Sunday night. Politico has a nifty breakdown answering all of your questions, but the basics are that it’ll start at 9 p.m., Anderson Cooper of CNN and Martha Radditz of ABC will be moderating, and yes, it’s highly likely that Trump will defend making another five-day news cycle out of the fact that he called a woman fat.

4. Education NC has an important series on youth suicide.

The series has four parts so far, one of which has run in the News & Observer. Here’s an excerpt from the first piece, “All the little things start seeming like big things“:

For nights on end, Ash had practiced singing a song called “Front Porch Step,” written and perfected while Quick slept downstairs. Ash’s laptop was filled with video clips, take after take after take, attempting to get the song just right. Ash, wearing a gray and black hoodie with bleached blonde hair swooped across the forehead in a skater style, looked into the GoPro camera and strummed the guitar strings.

It was a love song, about broken hearts and unhealed wounds. It built to a crescendo. “Get off my mind, give back my heart, and get the f–k away from me.” Ash paused and gave a slight nod.

The video, and Ash’s other online postings, offered a glimpse at a teenager filled with angst, struggling for acceptance, trying to sort out a personal conflict about gender and sexual identity, battling mental illness. Like many adolescents, Ash was a prolific user of social media, especially Tumblr, where Ash posted funny cat videos and racy pictures of women in lingerie and a Taylor Swift song.


Four days later, the snow fell and the potato skins came out of the oven and Ash went back to their room and shut the door. Ash sent text messages to friends. I’m done. I’m ready to die. Some of the recipients brushed off Ash’s declaration. Others said they’d check on Ash in an hour or two. Please call me, Ash typed. Ash left the iPad unlocked so their mom could find messages for friends and loved ones. And then, quietly, Ash snuck out of the house and into the wet winter darkness.

Make sure you check this out.

5. Poverty rates are still higher than they were before the recession started.

Via NC Policy Watch:

“North Carolina’s economy isn’t working for everyone, and for some it’s downright broken,” said Tazra Mitchell, BTC policy analyst and co-author of the report. “Many families wake up to financial insecurity every morning as the shortage of jobs paying family-supporting wages persists, household income re-mains below pre-recession levels, and the gap between the wealthy and everyone else widens.”

The state’s poverty rate, child poverty rate, and deep poverty rate were each the 12th highest in the nation in 2015. Nearly 698,000 North Carolinians lived in deep poverty in 2015, meaning they earned half or less of the annual poverty-level income for their family size. Race, gender, and age also play significant roles in poverty, the report finds:

  • Poverty has the fiercest grip on children—especially children of color—compared to any other age group. North Carolina’s child poverty rate was 23.5 percent in 2015, well above the national rate of 20.7 percent.
  • Since 2007, the poverty rate for Hispanics or Latinos has increased by 5 percentage points compared to less than 2 percentage points for all other major racial groups.
  • The 2015 poverty rate for women in the state was 17.8 percent versus 14.9 percent for men.
  • In 2015, Latina, American Indian, and African-American women were more than twice as likely to live in poverty as Asian and white women
  • Older women are far more likely to struggle to make ends meet than men: 11.0 percent of women over 65 lived in poverty compared to 6.9 percent of men in 2015.

It’s no wonder that only a quarter of North Carolina voters are feeling Governor McCrory’s Carolina Comeback. The administration (and the state legislature) have done absolutely nothing to combat poverty outside of the typical bootstraps measures that conservatives tend to lean on.

The former Archbishop of Cantebury Rowan Williams gave a sermon nearly ten years ago on Christmas Day. Some of those words apply perfectly here.

“Dr Tabash said that all of this is important simply because ‘the poorest deserve the best’ …’The poorest deserve the best’: when you hear that, I wonder if you can take in just how revolutionary it is. They do not deserve what’s left over when the more prosperous have had their fill, or what can be patched together on a minimal budget as some sort of damage limitation. And they don’t ‘deserve’ the best because they’ve worked for it and everyone agrees they’ve earned it. They deserve it simply because their need is what it is and because where human dignity is least obvious it’s most important to make a fuss about it.”

Let’s hope that whoever is running this state next year makes a fuss about it.

Stay dry this weekend.