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Saturday News: Cry "Havoc"

US, UK, AND FRANCE LAUNCH MISSILE ATTACK ON OUTSKIRTS OF DAMASCUS: The United States, France and Britain launched military strikes in Syria to punish President Bashar Assad for an apparent chemical attack against civilians and to deter him from doing it again, but also stirred up angry responses from Syria's allies and ignited a debate over whether the attacks were justified. Pentagon officials said the attacks targeted the heart of Assad's programs to develop and produce chemical weapons. Defense officials from the countries involved in the attack gave differing accounts of how much warning was given to the Russians, Syria's powerful ally. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. did not coordinate targets with or notify the Russian government of the strikes, beyond normal airspace "de-confliction" communications. But the description from an ally described things differently. But French Defense Minister Florence Parly said that "with our allies, we ensured that the Russians were warned ahead of time."

Friday News: Cultural decline?


DAN FOREST "RETREATS" TO THE MOUNTAINS FOR ALL-MALE CHRISTIAN BONDING: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and dozens of other Christian men spent last weekend in the North Carolina mountains at an invitation-only retreat organized by Forest and his supporters. They slept 10 to a room "like a summer camp," according to Forest's chief of staff and campaign manager Hal Weatherman. “There’s no political conversation," Forest told host Pete Kaliner. "There’s nothing political at all.” The event has a website, but the site makes clear participation is invitation only. Weatherman said volunteers recruit attendees from around the state to create "a strong geographic reach." “Many of you share my concerns about the cultural decline of our country, our state and our communities," Forest, a social conservative widely expected to run for governor in 2020, says on the website. "To combat this decline, I’m continuing to hold the annual Black Mountain Weekend. ... Speakers and presenters will share their real-world experiences and lead the group in discussions on issues that confront our nation, state and communities."

Thursday News: Winning?


NC'S MIDDLE CLASS WILL PAY HIGHER STATE TAXES THANKS TO TRUMP: Many North Carolinians will be paying more taxes to the state because of the federal tax changes signed into law by President Donald Trump before Christmas, officials said Wednesday. That's good news for the state budget, where lawmakers expect to see an additional $120 million in revenue over the next two years, but not so great for taxpayers. North Carolina uses federal adjusted gross income as a starting point to calculate state taxes. Because AGI is figured after the smaller deductions but before the standard deduction, the state stands to gain because some people will have a higher starting point to figure their taxes.

Wednesday News: Put your money where your mouth is


COOPER WANTS MORE FUNDING FOR DEQ TO ADDRESS GENX CHALLENGES: Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that he plans to include $14.5 million in his recommended budget to address health and safety threats posed by GenX and other emerging contaminants. "Protecting the water we drink and the air we breathe is critical, and my budget recommendations will give state agencies the tools they need to continue keeping North Carolina families healthy," Cooper said in a statement. "Our administration has taken strong action to hold polluters accountable, but we need meaningful investments in water testing, permitting and scientific analysis to protect our environment statewide." Cooper last year sought $2.6 million for the state Department of Environmental Quality and the state Department of Health and Human Services to study GenX and its long-term health effects, but lawmakers provided only $435,000 to the local water authority in Wilmington and scientists at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington studying GenX.

Tuesday News: Domestic terrorism


TWO CHAPEL HILL SCHOOLS ON ALERT AFTER MAN THREATENS TO "SHOOT THEM UP": According to a message from Principal Sulura Jackson sent to parents Monday night, school officials received a second-hand report of a man and woman looking near the school. The man reportedly told four girls, all under the age of 10, that he was going to “shoot up the school” on Tuesday. Jackson said the man reportedly told the girls he had a gun in the camouflage backpack he was carrying. School officials said they have been unable to confirm the credibility of the threat, but will have a noticeable police presence at Smith Middle and Seawell Elementary on Tuesday as a precaution. The incident is the latest in a string of threats received at North Carolina schools since a mass shooting killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

Monday News: That's not how any of this works

REPUBLICAN CLERK OF COURT TELLS STAFF THEY MUST WORK ON HER CAMPAIGN: The memo said employees would be required to campaign for her, including taking vacation time so they weren't doing political work while on the clock. "You will be required to stand at the polls on May 8th for half day. Vacation leave will (be) taken." was the second item on the list. The third item said staffers were required to attend a Republican forum at a church. She also wrote that she would ask staffers "to go out with me on Saturdays or during the week to speak to people you know. You will take vacation leave." After the memo was published, Surry County Clerk of Court Teresa O'Dell told the Mount Airy News that she doesn't require staff to work for her campaign. She acknowledged that the memo "seemed to indicate otherwise" and sent a follow-up note.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


186,000 SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLDS CAN CHANGE NC. WILL THEY?: Vote – particularly young people. It is one of the strongest refrains coming from the “March for Our Lives,” the political movement that’s grown out of the tragic Parkland, Fla. high school shootings. Voting makes a difference and prompts change. Not voting leaves it to others. For the hundreds of thousands of young people who’ve taken to the streets to demand change, the challenge is at their feet – quite literally. We’ll be able to see the proof behind the rhetoric. Will they register and will they vote? If the protests are a sign of increased young-voter engagement, it will be a wave that could have a big impact – not just in 2018 but for several years to come. It isn’t hard. Early registration is available at most high schools, state Division of Motor Vehicles branches and many other places. There’s information available on line here. See you at the polling place.

Saturday News: Melting snowflakes

NC LEGISLATURE TO INSTALL AIRPORT-LIKE SECURITY CHECKPOINTS: After decades of open access, tighter security measures will be put in place at the Legislative Building next week. Metal detectors and X-ray machines will be installed at the entrances to the building, and the public will be screened before entry, Paul Coble, who oversees operations of the legislative complex, said in a news release Friday. "The Legislative Building for the General Assembly has always been the 'People’s Building,' and all members of the public, including daily school group tours, will continue to have access to their government and the legislative process," Coble wrote in the release. "Our goal is to make the building safe for all who have business with the General Assembly, as well as for the members, staff, press and citizens of the State of North Carolina."

Friday News: Taken


THE FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOL FALLS VICTIM TO INVOLUNTARY TAKEOVER BY CHARTER OPERATORS: A politically connected company with a limited track record has been chosen to take over a low-performing North Carolina elementary school. The State Board of Education voted 7-4 on Thursday to hire Charlotte-based Achievement For All Children to manage Southside Ashpole Elementary School in Robeson County. Achievement For All Children is heavily connected to Oregon resident John Bryan, a generous contributor to political campaigns and school-choice causes in North Carolina. He has taken credit for passage of the law creating the Innovative School District. SchoolWorks rated AAC as meeting expectations in four of 11 areas. The other company vying for the contract, the Michigan-based Romine Group, was rated as meeting expectations in two areas.

Thursday News: All about the Benjamins


GOVERNOR COOPER BATTLES GOP LEGISLATURE OVER CONTROL OF FUNDS: Legal teams for Gov. Roy Cooper and his Republican foils in the General Assembly were back in court Wednesday, arguing over money. They disagree over which branch of government ultimately controls certain types of spending, and Superior Court Judge Henry Hight heard arguments about federal block grants and the millions set to flow from the Volkswagen settlement fund, which was created to end lawsuits tied to the car company's faulty vehicle emissions figures. Hight said he would rule on those two issues, which account for $183 million in a much broader legal dispute, as soon as Friday. The Cooper administration argues that it can direct this spending within certain limits.


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