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Ag-gag may live

The Ag-gag bill may still be alive.

Controversial Senate Bill 648 is slumbering in Senate Rules but may get a hearing next week, according to a lobbyist for the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States.

The bill aims to prevent undercover whistleblowers from exposing animal abuse in the state's meat processing plants.

Similar bills have been filed in other states. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent NC lawmakers a video featuring Republican pundit Mary Matalin that showed graphic scenes of animal abuse.

Etheridge takes up for pigs

POLITICAL WIND: A decision by the U.S. Capitol Police suggesting that pigs were a threat to spread H1N1 to humans created an unlikely alliance between People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, a Lillington Democrat and farmer. The police were wrong, he wrote, in their reason for denying permission for PETA to blow hog-waste infused air toward Congress. Pigs don't give H1N1 to people, he explained. (N&O)

UNLIKELY ARTIST: The African American man who painted a portrait of Jesse Helms had heard of the North Carolina senator, but didn't know much about him. Rene Dickerson, whose art often focuses on scenes of African American culture, struggled to get the caucasian flesh tone right. (N&O)

MACKEY PLEA: State Rep. Nick Mackey pleaded guilty Tuesday to contempt of court for his failure to show up for a December 2007 trial of a client and had his sentencing indefinitely set aside. Mackey, a Charlotte Democrat, faces a hearing next month before the N.C. State Bar's disciplinary hearing commission over allegations that he failed to pay taxes on time and poorly represented a client. (Charlotte Observer)

Closed prison has no new use yet

The state doesn't have any immediate plans for the the Guilford Correctional Center in McLeansville, which closed on Oct. 1 as part of budget cuts. 

The prison, known as Camp Burton, was one of seven smaller prisons closed to save $22 million, the Greensboro News & Record reports.

The N.C. Department of Correction can consult with state and local officials or talk to private organizations about converting the building.

The DOC must give priority to converting a closed prison to another criminal justice use where it would be cost-effective.

Prison Superintendent James Lacewell said he has heard about the space being used for people released from parole, which he said is not cost-effective, or for a pig museum.

"I don’t know if that was supposed to be a joke or something," he said.

Officials are not taking the proposal from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals seriously. Local leaders want to get a new tennant in quickly before the building starts to look like an abandoned prison. 

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