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Friday News: Environmental injustice

MASSIVE GROWTH IN POULTRY FARMS PLAGUE NC'S MINORITY COMMUNITIES: Environmental groups that mapped poultry operations in the state found the quickest growth in poultry operations from 2012 to 2019 was in counties with substantial Black, Latino and Native American populations. A report released Thursday by the Environmental Working Group and the Waterkeeper Alliance estimates that numbers of chickens and turkeys in Robeson, Sampson, and Duplin counties grew 36%, from 83 million to 113 million, with the fastest growth in Robeson. Excluding those three counties, the number of chickens and turkeys grown on industrial farms grew 17%, the report said. The environmental groups called for more oversight of poultry operations, starting with how they manage the millions of tons of waste produced each year.

Thursday News: Shedding racist icons


UNC-CHAPEL HILL TO RENAME THREE BUILDINGS CURRENTLY NAMED AFTER SLAVERS: UNC-Chapel Hill is removing the names from three campus buildings that honor individuals who are tied to white supremacy and racism. A fourth building will keep its name, but signs will clarify which members of a family it honors. The campus Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to remove the names of Charles B. Aycock, Julian S. Carr and Josephus Daniels from their respective buildings. The name of Thomas Ruffin Sr. will be stripped from that residence hall, but it will still honor his son, Thomas Ruffin Jr. These men “occupied high positions of influence and public trust” and used that power against Black people, according to the university’s Commission on History, Race & A Way Forward, which made the recommendation to remove the names.

Wednesday News: Hit those high notes


CUNNINGHAM PUSHES HARD FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION: Cunningham and Democratic interest groups have begun attacking Tillis' record as a state lawmaker and speaker of the North Carolina House, where he and other Republicans have, for years, blocked all efforts to expand Medicaid to tens of thousands of low-income adults. In the middle of a public health crisis and an economy in which millions have lost their jobs – and employer-provided health coverage – Medicaid should be available as an option for more people, Cunningham said. "There are a lot people who are sick and hurt and financially in dire straits right now," he said. "We need to make sure all of our people have quality, affordable health care in the midst of this pandemic." Cunningham also is pressing for a more coherent national strategy to battle coronavirus, including more investment in testing and contact tracing, saying he hears "very deep anxieties" from families and business owners "who just don't know what tomorrow may bring."

Tuesday News: Two wrongs = really wrong


MIKE PENCE TO VISIT BOB LUDDY'S PRIVATE SCHOOL WEDNESDAY: Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit the Triangle on Wednesday, two days after President Donald Trump toured a local facility involved with manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a letter sent to families of Thales Academy. Bob Luddy, founder of the Thales Academy private schools, sent a letter to families at the Apex campus to say that Pence would make a “short visit” to the school, according to the letter provided by ABC11, The News & Observer’s newsgathering partner. “The U.S. Department of Education is promoting school choice in every way possible. Vice President Mike Pence has long been an advocate of school choice, which he promoted as governor in his home state of Indiana,” Luddy wrote. Thursday, the Raleigh campus of Thales Academy was informed that a visiting staff member had tested positive for COVID-19, The N&O reported.

Monday News: 112,713 infected


DEATH TOLL FROM PANDEMIC IN NC REACHES 1,785: A total of 1,785 have died from COVID-19 complications, up seven from the day before. The number of completed COVID-19 tests increased by 34,343 Sunday to 1,613,385. Sunday marks the third highest one-day total for new tests. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,621 new COVID-19 cases across the state Sunday, bringing the total up to 112,713. The percentage of positive cases from daily testing increased to 9% Saturday, the latest date available, up from 7% the day before. The number of those in the state hospitalized for COVID-19 increased by two on Saturday to 1,170.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


BURR AND TILLIS NEED TO HELP NC MORE THAN APPEASE TRUMP: The House of Representatives, NEARLY TWO MONTHS AGO, passed a relief package that addresses many of the concerns that now demand urgent action. It appropriately continues the $600-a-week unemployment insurance benefit through January and provides $175 billion in assistance for rent, mortgages and utilities. It also provides money for states to do more testing and tracing of COVID-19 spread; $100 billion so schools can safely reopen and helps struggling states with assistance to keep essential workers on the job. The Trump administration and the Senate, other than complain about the House’s plan, have done nothing. Their negligence and failure to act has resulted in an emergency. It is time to stop playing politics with the lives of North Carolinians. The conceptual White House relief package is larded with contingencies such as: requiring schools open in return for aid; rejecting funding states to increase testing and tracing; and cutting a payroll tax that provides NO relief to those who need it most NOW.

Saturday News: Fleeing a sinking ship?


REP. DAVID LEWIS ANNOUNCES ABRUPT RETIREMENT: One of the most powerful Republicans in the state legislature announced Friday he’s retiring from public office, just months before he was set to run for re-election this November. Harnett County Rep. David Lewis has been a state lawmaker since 2003. He said he plans to serve out the rest of his term this year, but then wants to spend more time with his family. “I love my wife and kids and I recognize that their sacrifice has been measurably greater than my own, because they really didn’t have a say in when Dad was coming home,” Lewis wrote in his retirement announcement. A farmer from Dunn, he’s best known to the public for his role in election law changes, specifically on voter ID and redistricting bills.

Friday News: R.I.P.


CONTROVERSIAL UNC-W PROFESSOR MIKE ADAMS FOUND DEAD IN HIS HOME: Deputies responded to a wellness check at Adams’ home address and found him deceased. NHCSO is investigating the death, but has not released any additional information, and could not confirm cause of death or if foul play was suspected. The longtime professor of criminology and sociology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) was set to retire next week as part of a $500,000 settlement. The settlement came as Adams was facing growing criticism for his social media posts and UNCW, in particular Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli, was under increasing pressure to terminate his employment. Several petitions with around 85,000 total signatures called for his termination, and letters from his colleagues and fellow criminologists denounced his actions and called for his firing. Due to Adams’ tenured status, and his previous legal victory over UNCW (which cost the UNC system roughly $700,000), the university opted for a negotiated exit.

Thursday News: Causey & effect

STATE FIRE MARSHAL BLAMES FIREMEN FOR HIM NOT WEARING MASK: Harnett County removed a handful of pictures from its official Facebook page this week after a cavalcade of comments criticizing officials who weren't wearing masks. The post showed state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey visiting the Coats Grove Fire and Rescue station. A number of others, including state Sen. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, posed for a photo outside, in front of a fire truck. The post also included images from an indoor meeting. Causey and others were standing apart from each other, but they weren't wearing masks. Causey, who is also the state fire marshal, said he tends to follow the firefighters' lead on such visits. "Most of these firefighters are not wearing masks just around the fire station," he said. "I stand with the firefighters, so whatever they say."


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