Category: Opinion


Planned Parenthood forces cancellation of 'GOSNELL' screening…

Gosnell One Sheet

Planned Parenthood convinced a hotel in Austin, Texas, to cancel a screening of a new movie about convicted abortionist Kermit Gosnell, according to the film’s producers.

The movie, “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” which opens in theaters Oct. 12, was to be screened Saturday night in the Hyatt Hotel in the Texas capital at the same time Planned Parenthood hosts a $400 a plate gala dinner headlined by Cecille Richards, the organization’s former CEO.

The movie’s producers, however, were told Monday by the hotel the screen was canceled for “security reasons.”

The producers told WND they paid the deposit and signed the contract to reserve the space for the screening.

“Everything that was required by the Hyatt was provided and completed as required,” a spokesman said.

Producer Ann McElhinney said the movie screening “gave a real choice to the people of Austin.”

“Over 250 had already registered to go and we were receiving dozens of new RSVPs every day,” she said. “But now thanks to the bullying of Planned Parenthood and the cowardice of the Hyatt they won’t get to see the Gosnell Movie and the truth about abortion.”

Gosnell, who ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, was convicted in 2011 of multiple counts of first degree murder for late-term and after-birth abortions. A routine investigation led to the discovery of the criminal abortion operation, which Gosnell had been running for years.

The producers say the movie exposes the lack of attention the case received at the time.

Planned Parenthood’s Richards had been invited to the screening at the Hyatt, the producers said.

Producer Phelim McAleer said the cancellation is “only a temporary victory for the forces of intolerance that have tried to bury this story all along the way.”

He said the Hyatt screening was just a “sneak peek” before the movie is brought to 750 screens nationwide on Oct. 12.

The film centers on Detective James “Woody” Wood, played by Dean Cain, and his partner Det. Stark (Alfonzo Rachel) who work an informant network to identify a doctor who had been selling prescription drugs illegally.

As the case unfolded, Wood and District Attorney Sarah Jane Morris were confronted not only by the horrors of the case but also fierce resistance from government and personal politics.

“Gosnell” is directed by Nick Searcy who starred in “The Shape of Water” and the critically acclaimed FX series “Justified.”

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NASA can see dark, polluted Carolina rivers spilling into the ocean from space…

A NASA satellite true-color image that shows water discolored by excess soils, sediments, decaying leaves, pollution, and other debris after Hurricane Florence. (NASA)

Images from a NASA satellite in space show dark, polluted water from Carolina rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean.

Visible and infrared images show dissolved organic matter in the water with excess soils, sediments, decaying leaves, pollution, and other debris resulting from Hurricane Florence.

“Organic matter—such as leaves, roots, or bark—contain pigments and chemicals (such as tannins) that can color the water when they dissolve. Depending on the amount of dissolved particles, the water in natural-color imagery can appear blue, green, yellow, or brown as the CDOM concentration increases,” a NASA spokesperson said.

The Waccamaw River is expected to peak Wednesday at 22 feet near Conway, twice the normal flood stage, higher than the record of 17.9 feet, according to charts published by the National Weather Service.

The Cape Fear and Neuse Rivers aren’t expected to return to normal levels until October, the charts show.

North Carolina river swirls with gray muck near flooded coal ash dump

Dam breach at Duke plant; coal ash could spill

Florence: Evacuations continue as North Carolina rivers rise

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Mosquitoes New Menace…

LUMBERTON — Hurricane Florence exited Robeson County 10 days ago, but it still has some bite.

The record rainfall has created pools of water that are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and local reports are that small children and pets have been carried away by some of the bigger ones. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but there are a lot of mosquitoes, and they are big and aggressive.

Bill Smith, county Health Department director, calls them “nuisance” mosquitoes, and not generally a threat to a person’s health, such as mosquitoes that carry bacteria that can make people sick and even kill them.

Smith said the county does not have a spray program it is so large and rural that spraying operations are generally ineffective and costly. State Sen. Danny Britt said on Facebook that he and Rep. Brenden Jones are working to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide money to Robeson County, which has been declared a disaster area because of Florence, that can be used to fund spraying operations.

The city of Lumberton is actively spraying to combat the mosquito infestation, City Manager Wayne Horne said. Two trucks are being used to essentially spray all day every day, and that will continue as long as it is needed.

However, the best defense against mosquitoes can be self-defense.

According to the Health Department, to prevent mosquitoes from breeding:

— Remove containers that can hold water, especially old tires.

— Keep gutters clean and in good repair.

— Repair leaky outdoor faucets and change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week.

— Use screened windows and doors and make sure screens fit tightly and are not torn.

— Keep tight-fitting screens or lids on rain barrels.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, to avoid being beaten:

— Use an EPA-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET; Picaridin; IR3535; Oil of lemon eucalyptus; Para-menthane-diol; or 2-undecanone.

— Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

— If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.

Reach Donnie Douglas at 910-416-5649 or [email protected]

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Judge restores protections for grizzly bears, blocking hunts…

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge ordered federal protections restored for grizzly bears in the Northern Rocky Mountains on Monday, a move that blocks the first grizzly hunts planned in the Lower 48 states in almost three decades.

Wyoming and Idaho had been on the cusp of allowing hunters to kill up to 23 bears this fall. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen had twice delayed the hunts, and the latest order blocking them was due to expire later this week. The hunts would have been the first in U.S. outside Alaska since 1991.

Christensen wrote in his ruling that the case was “not about the ethics of hunting.” Rather, he said, it was about whether federal officials adequately considered threats to the species’ long-term recovery when they lifted protections for more than 700 bears living around Yellowstone National Park.

In the judge’s view, the answer was no.

He noted that an estimated 50,000 bears once roamed the contiguous U.S. and said it would be “simplistic at best and disingenuous at worst” not to consider the status of grizzlies outside the Yellowstone region, one of the few areas where they have bounced back.

State and federal officials reacted with disappointment. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said the ruling provided further evidence of flaws in the Endangered Species Act and the need for Congress to make changes.

“Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story,” Mead said in a statement.

A bid to remove protections for the region’s gray wolves ran into similar legal problems last decade. In that case, Congress intervened in 2011 to strip safeguards from the animals through legislation, opening the way to public wolf hunts.

Pressure to lift protections on bears and allow hunting has increased in recent years as the number of conflicts between bears and people increased. Most of those conflicts involve attacks on livestock but occasionally bears attack people, such as a Wyoming hunting guide killed earlier this month by a pair of grizzly bears.

The ruling marks a victory for wildlife advocates and Native American tribes that sued when the Interior Department last year revoked federal protections. They argued that the animals face continued threats from climate change and loss of habitat.

Tim Preso, an attorney with EarthJustice who represented many of the plaintiffs, said Christensen’s ruling made clear that the government had moved too hastily to remove protections because bears are absent from much of their historical range.

“Putting the blinders on to everything other than Yellowstone grizzlies was illegal,” he said. “We tried to get them to put on the brakes, but they refused to do that.”

Hunting and agriculture groups and the National Rifle Association had intervened in the case seeking to keep management of grizzlies under state control.

Restoring protections will allow the grizzly population to grow unchecked, “endangering the lives and livelihoods of westerners who settled the region long ago,” said Cody Wisniewski, representing the Wyoming Farm Bureau.

The grizzlies living in and around Yellowstone were classified as a threatened species in 1975 after most bears had been killed off early last century and the population was down to just 136 animals.

Government biologists contend Yellowstone’s grizzlies are now thriving, have adapted to changes in their diet and are among the best-managed bears in the world.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Jennifer Strickland said the agency was reviewing Monday’s ruling but stood behind its decision to lift protections.

The agency initially declared a successful recovery for the Yellowstone population in 2007, but a federal judge ordered protections to remain while wildlife officials studied whether the decline of a major food source — whitebark pine seeds — could threaten the bears’ survival.

The Fish and Wildlife Service concluded last year it had addressed that and all other threats and said the grizzlies were no longer a threatened species requiring restrictive federal protections for them and their habitat.

That decision turned management of the bears over to the states, which agreed on a plan that set hunting quotas based on the number of deaths each year to ensure the population stays above 600 animals.

The federal agency has been moving toward lifting federal protections for another group of about 1,000 bears living in Montana’s Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, but it first wanted to see how Christensen ruled on the Yellowstone case.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center said the agency should reconsider those plans in light of Christensen’s ruling.

“The idea of recovering grizzly bears in the Lower 48 should still be on the table. They shouldn’t get away with this piecemeal delisting approach,” Bishop said.


Associated Press writers Matt Volz in Helena and Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyoming contributed to this story.


Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter at .

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GOOGLE Tells Congress How To Legislate Privacy…

Google on Monday released a set of privacy principles to guide Congress as it prepares to write legislation aimed at governing how websites collect and monetize user data.

The framework largely consists of privacy principles that Google already abides by or could easily bring itself into compliance with. It calls for allowing users to easily access and control the data that’s collected about them and requiring companies to be transparent about their data practices.

“This framework is based on established privacy frameworks, as well as our experience providing services that rely on personal data and our work to comply with evolving data protection laws around the world,” Keith Enright, Google’s chief privacy officer, wrote in a blog post. “These principles help us evaluate new legislative proposals and advocate for responsible, interoperable and adaptable data protection regulations.”

The set of proposals is designed to be a baseline for federal rules regarding data collection. Google appears to be the first internet giant to release such a framework, but numerous trade associations have published their own in recent weeks.

The industry has gotten on board with the idea of a national privacy law in the weeks since California passed its own strict regulations aimed at cracking down on data collection and increasing user control. Internet companies have universally opposed the measure and have begun pushing Congress to establish a national law that would block states from implementing their own.

Enright and executives from other major tech and telecom companies will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday regarding their data practices.

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Kremlin in shock as hand-picked candidates rejected for third week in row…

The Kremlin has suffered a third weekend of election shocks, with its soldiers unexpectedly losing two gubernatorial races to scarcely credible “opposition” candidates.

In both Khabarovsk Krai, in the Russian Far East, and Vladimir Oblast, just east of Moscow, handpicked Kremlin candidates lost second-round run-offs to members of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party – but despite its name, the party is a decidedly undemocratic, nationalistic party, reportedly linked to the mafia. 

In Khabarovsk, the vote difference was a massive ratio of 3:1, with Sergei Furgal polling 67.57 per cent against incumbent Vyacheslav Shport’s 27.97 per cent. In Vladimir Oblast, Vladimir Sipyagin beat loyalist Svetlana Orlova by a smaller margin – 57 per cent to 37.46 per cent. 

But in both cases, few had even predicted a second-round. Fewer still that second-round results would tilt so overwhelming against the ruling-party candidate. On early inspection, it appears the opposition candidates benefited from a surge of tactical voting. Mr Furgal registered 2.5 times the number of votes he received in the first round. Mr Sipyagin, just under. On both occasions, the incumbents’ vote stayed flat. 

The results followed a similar story last week when the gubernatorial election in far-east Primorsky Krai was apparently won by a Communist challenger, Andrei Ishchenko. But the victory was snatched at the last, probably by wide-scale election fraud. Mr Ishchenko, incensed, announced a hunger strike the following morning – only to call it off by tea-time following a call from his loyalist leader. 

Moscow’s elections chief Ella Pamfilova eventually ruled that election invalid. But she was largely ridiculed for her insistence that the complaints demonstrated fair and competitive elections.  

Speaking with journalists on Monday, spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted the Kremlin has been taken aback by the nature of the voting. Less convincingly, he insisted his boss was only interested in seeing an honest and competitive vote. Rigorous analysis was for another day, he insisted. 

The Kremlin will not have missed the significance of the votes. 

With one exception in 2015, they are the first reverses for the ruling party since direct governor elections returned in 2012. They come at a time that competitive, opposition politics have been eliminated from the country. President Vladimir Putin’s only obvious challenger, Alexei Navalny, left prison on Monday following 30 days of detention, only to be arrested immediately after his release.

The pension reform changed everything. The message people are giving Putin is simple: either he returns to the old social contract where he protected ordinary people like them. Or they will react 

Valery Solovei, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations 

Those “opposition” parties allowed to compete in Russia’s election system usually play a specific role. The deal is they offer candidates too outrageous or toxic to ordinary voters. Most of the time that has worked. 

This year, however, something changed. 

Against the backdrop of the government’s highly unpopular pension reform, voters have looked to give the ruling party a bloody nose wherever they can. And they have voted in masses for the candidate who has the most chance of defeating the party candidate –even if that means voting for the Liberal Democrat Party or no-less reviled Communists.

Moscow protests: Russian opposition leader Navalny detained

Both the leadership of the LDPR and Communist Party of Russia are loyal to the Kremlin. As such it is unlikely that any of the new governors will make life difficult for the Kremlin. 

Mikhail Vinogradov, chairman of the St. Petersburg Politics Fund, said the results issued a challenge for the Kremlin and propaganda. 

“The problem is that state propaganda accentuates not so much the positive of government candidates, as much as a thesis that the opposition is worse and weaker,” he says. “That logic is now broken. People are voting tactically. So what can the government do?“

The challenge is made more difficult by a more general protest sentiment returning, says Valery Solovei, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. For a while, anger was directed mostly against the ruling party. Now the anger extends to the man at the very top. 

“The pension reform changed everything. The message people are giving Putin is simple: either he returns to the old social contract where he protected ordinary people like them. Or they will react.”

The elections were about more than the victory of LDPR candidates, he says. They described something far deeper – the “moral and psychological condition” of the nation. 

“This is about massive consciousness. Yes, this vote is a protest vote against United Russia. But it’s also a signal for the president. These were his candidates. The Kremlin doesn’t quite understand this yet. It will need to.” 

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8th Place Opening…

Elsewhere, Dan Fogelman’s ‘Life Itself’ and ‘Assassination Nation’ get killed; ‘Colette’ and ‘The Sisters Brothers’ shine at the specialty box office.

A trio of high-profile fall festival films opening nationwide got iced at the weekend box office — Michael Moore’s new documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, the edgy teen black comedy Assassination Nation and Dan Fogelman’s Life Itself.

The only new movie to do impressive business was a more commercial, Hollywood studio title: Eli Roth’s big-screen adaptation of the beloved kids book The House With a Clock in Its Walls. The family-friendly pic, starring Jack Black and Cate Blanchett, debuted to a better-than-expected $26.9 million from 3,592 theaters, easily topping the chart.

From Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and distributed by Universal, the pre-Halloween offering follows a young orphan (Owen Vacarro) who goes to live in his uncle’s spooky house, which has a mind of its own. Blanchett plays a witch who lives next door. Overseas, House With a Clock launched to $8.7 million from a smattering of offshore markets for a global start of $35.6 million.

“Our late September date was engineered for the kids and family audience as back-to-school activities start to wind down and moviegoing picks up — if you can deliver the goods,” says Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, adding that Roth, Blanchett and Black made for a potent combination.

Adds Amblin president and co-CEO Jeff Small, “We fell under the spell of this movie from the moment it was pitched to us and it’s clear audiences this weekend have been enchanted as well.”

Fahrenheit 11/9 limped to an eighth-place finish in North America with $3.1 million from 1,719 theaters. Prerelease tracking had suggested at least $5 million to $6 million. Moore’s satirical anti-Trump film marks the first release from Tom Ortenberg’s new company, Briarcliff. (Ortenberg worked with Moore on Fahrenheit 9/11 while stationed at Lionsgate.)

“We’re optimistic,” says Briarcliff distribution head Steve Bunnell, noting the film’s A CinemaScore and strong PostTrak exit scores. “The idea was to have the movie play everywhere before the midterm elections.”

In 2004, Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 debuted to a record-breaking $23.9 million from 868 locations. Otherwise, his films, similar to other political or specialized docs, have launched first in select theaters before expanding their footprint in order to capitalize on word of mouth. While it’s true Fahrenheit 11/9 posted one of the biggest bows ever for a political doc, it is only the fourth political doc to launch nationwide, making comparisons tough.

One of those four is Death of a Nation, from conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. The film debuted this summer to $2.4 million from 1,005 locations before topping out at $5.9 million domestically, the worst showing of D’Souza’s directorial career despite an overall doc boom at the box office, including such summer hits as Won’t You Be My Neighbor? ($22.6 million), RBG ($14 million) and Three Identical Strangers ($12.1 million). The latter three all rolled out slowly.

Life Itself, directed by This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman, came in at just $2.1 million from 2,578 cinemas after getting ravaged by critics (its current Rotten Tomatoes score is 13 percent). Late last year, Amazon Studios doled out north of $10 million for rights to the film.

The multigenerational relationship film stars Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, Laia Costa, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas. Life Itself, earning an estimated $800,000 on Friday, is set to come in at No. 10.

Sam Levinson’s satirical thriller Assassination Nation fared even worse, earning an estimated $1 million from 1,403 theaters. Specialty distributor Neon partnered with the Russo brothers in ponying up a reported $10 million for rights to the no-holds-barred black comedy after it premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival.

A modern-day take on the Salem witch trials, the violent, R-rated revenge pic follows a group of gun-toting teenage girls who must save their small town after a data hack exposes everyone’s dirty little secrets. Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Bella Thorne, Abra, Anika Noni Rose, Colman Domingo, Maude Apatow and Joel McHale star.

“Sam Levinson has created a bold, visionary and ultimately cathartic response to the dumpster fire that is 2018. We’re admittedly disappointed more people didn’t come out this weekend, but those that did were loud and overwhelmingly positive. It’s going to take more time for Assassination Nation to find its audience,” says Neon chief Tom Quinn.

The pic screened earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Fahrenheit 11/9 and Life Itself also played as awards season got underway.

Heading into the weekend, none of the three films were expected to post big opening numbers, since they are adult-skewing titles that rely on a long, sustained run. Still, all three are coming in on the low end of expectations, if not behind. And the risks of opening nationwide, versus a platform run, include quickly losing theaters.

Fahrenheit 11/9 currently sports a 79 percent Rotten Tomatoes score; Assassination Nation, 68 percent; and House With a Clock, 65 percent.

Among holdovers, Lionsgate’s A Simple Favor held nicely in its sophomore outing, grossing $10.4 million to place No. 2 and finish Sunday with a domestic total of $32.6 million. Offshore, the Paul Feig black comedy took in $5.2 million from 36 markets for a foreign total of $10 million and $42.6 million globally.

Warner Bros.’ The Nun crossed the $100 million mark domestically in its third weekend after earning another $10.3 million. To boot, the horror pic topped the foreign chart with $35.4 million from 80 markets for a worldwide total of $292.6 million.

In North America, The Nun landed at No. 3, followed by Fox’s The Predator, which fell 65 percent in its sophomore session for a domestic total of $40.4 million. The Shane Black-directed reboot grossed another $15.3 million from 80 foreign markets for a tepid international total of $54.5 million and $94.5 million globally.

Box-office sensation Crazy Rich Asians, also from Warners, rounded out the top five domestically with $6.5 million in its sixth weekend for a heady cume of $159 million. Globally, Jon M. Chu’s rom-com zoomed past the $200 million mark, thanks to an early foreign total of $47 million.

At the U.S. specialty box office, fall festival offerings Colette, starring Keira Knightley, and The Sisters Brothers, starring John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, both impressed in their bows. From Bleecker Street, Colette posted a screen average of $39,197 from four theaters, followed by $30,507 for Annapurna’s Sisters Brothers.

Among specialty holdovers, Sony Pictures Classics’ The Wife, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, finished the weekend with a pleasing domestic total of $5 million from 468 theaters in its sixth outing.

Sept. 22, 7:52 a.m. Updated with Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.
Sept. 23, 7:30 a.m. Updated with weekend estimates.

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Soros-Backed Group Ramps up Efforts…

Soros-Backed Group Ramps up Efforts...

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Vehicle of Future?

Vehicle of Future?

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FLORENCE FLOODS: 3.4 million chickens, 5,500 pigs drown…

The number of hogs and poultry killed in Hurricane Florence flooding is already double the casualties from Matthew in 2016, and the losses are expected to mount this week as new information comes in from farmers as they gain access to their properties.

Meanwhile, the number of hog waste lagoons in North Carolina that are damaged or overflowing continues to increase.

The N.C. Department Agriculture and Consumer Services said Tuesday that so far 3.4 million chickens and turkeys have been killed by Florence, and 5,500 hogs have perished since the storm deluged the state. In preparation for the advancing storm, farmers were moving their swine to higher land, but the intensity of the flooding exceeded all expectations. The N.C. Pork Council said some of the hogs drowned in floor waters, others perished from wind damage barns.

The agriculture agency provided no details as to which counties or farming operations suffered the losses. The only specifics have come from a note to investors issued by Sanderson Farms, saying that flooding claimed 1.7 million broiler chickens out of its 20 million in the state, ranging in age from 6 days to 62 days.

Sanderson Farms said that 60 broiler houses and four feeder houses were flooded. Farmers, who are contracted to Sanderson, could be out of power for as long as three weeks, and are running on emergency diesel fuel. Sanderson Farms noted that about 30 independent farms that supply its chickens are isolated by flood waters and unreachable at this time. Each of the farms houses about 211,000 chickens, totaling more than 6 million birds that can’t be reached with chicken feed.

Perdue Farms said it was largely spared by the storm.

“We experienced minimal impact on our live operations, with partial losses at two farms raising our chickens,” spokesman Joe Forsthoffer said by email. “Our feed mills are operating normally and we’re delivering feed to farms. We moved birds from low-lying farms in advance of the storm.”

During Matthew, which struck in October 2016, the poultry industry lost 1.8 million birds, while 2,800 hogs perished, according to state Department Agriculture. North Carolina farming operations total 819 million head of poultry and 9.3 million hogs.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality said Tuesday that four open air lagoons that store hog waste have structural damage, up from two known pits whose retaining walls were compromised as of Monday.

The environmental agency said 13 lagoons are overflowing from heavy rainfall and 55 are close to the brim and could overflow if water levels continue rising.

The agency has not inspected any of the 3,300 waste lagoons in North Carolina and is relying on self-reporting by farmers, said spokeswoman Megan Thorpe. Three regional agency offices are closed after Hurricane Florence and some state employees had to be evacuated due to rising water levels.

What’s more, it’s assumed that some farmers have not yet seen the state of their hog operations because they lack access to their properties.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

The Pork Council, an industry advocacy organization, issued an advisory of its own saying that of the four that are compromised, only one lagoon is known to have breached. At that lagoon, on a small farm in Duplin County, the water flowed out through an opening in the wall, but the pit retained most of the fluids and solid waste material that sinks to the bottom of the lagoon, according to the Pork Council.

The organization said in a statement that damage to lagoons and spills appears to be limited.

“We do not believe, based on on-farm assessments to date and industry-wide surveying, that there are widespread impacts to the more than 2,100 farms with more than 3,300 anaerobic treatment lagoons in the state,” the council said.

Hog lagoons pose a potential environmental contamination risk because swine feces and urine contain bacteria and pathogens, including salmonella, E. coli and fecal coliform. Hog lagoons are the most common way farmers process pig waste, a treatment system in which microorganisms break down the waste matter into nutrients and byproducts that can be used as fertilizer.

North Carolina is one of the nation’s biggest livestock producers, ranking second in hog production; the state has more than 2,000 permitted swine farms and 9.3 million pigs.

H. Kim Lyerly, a Duke University professor of pathology and immunology, said that the contaminants from hog waste, mixed with other pollutants swept up by flood waters, can potentially expose vulnerable people to health problems.

“When you have a flood it’s a giant exposure of all the contents in the ground,” Lyerly said. “If you have a child or someone elderly or on a steroid inhaler or on chemotherapy, they may be more fragile.”

Lyerly is one of five Duke researchers who published a paper in the N.C. Medical Journal on Tuesday concluding that people who live near hog farm operations have higher rates of infant mortality, kidney disease, tuberculosis, septicemia, and higher hospital admissions.

But John Classen, a N.C. State University professor of agricultural engineering, said the public health risk from hog lagoon spills may not be as great as the risk caused by the flooding of chemical industries and municipal waste water treatment plants. Classen said hog farmers draw down lagoon water levels during hurricane seasons, which allows the open pits absorb heavy rains.

The water that overflows the rim of a lagoon is largely fresh water caused by rainfall, Classen said, and much of the bacteria is concentrated in the sludge that settles at the bottom as a byproduct of anaerobic digestion.

“The top is relatively dilute because of all the rainwater,” Classen said. “It’s not going to be as clean as rainwater, and I wouldn’t drink it.”

During major storms, uncovered lagoons can fill up with rain and overflow, or they can be flooded out by rising waters. The state has closed down 334 hog lagoons in flood plains since Hurricane Floyd in 1999, according to the N.C. Pork Council.

But spills continue to happen. After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, one hog waste lagoon failed, and 14 others were inundated, the council said. A May 2017 assessment of Matthew’s effects on the state’s water quality, conducted by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, said that elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria were found in waterways four months after the hurricane.

The report didn’t specify the source of the bacteria, but noted that such elevated levels are normal consequences of water runoff and flooding caused by hurricanes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it is monitoring hog lagoons and coordinating with state regulators, as needed, to assess impacts to downstream drinking water.

John Murawski: 919-829-8932; @johnmurawski

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