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Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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SERIOUSLY, JUST WEAR YOUR MASK: But please, just don’t think about it as so many Republicans do. “Mask-wearing has become a totem, a secular religious symbol,” Alex Castellanos, a longtime Republican strategist, told The Washington Post. “Christians wear crosses, Muslims wear a hijab, and members of the Church of Secular Science bow to the Gods of Data by wearing a mask as their symbol, demonstrating that they are the elite; smarter, more rational, and morally superior to everyone else.” This is a bizarre way to talk about people who are guided by facts, science and reason. It’s not about making a political point or asserting moral superiority; it’s about saving lives and protecting one another — which should be a basic element of citizenship in any democracy. Why turn a straightforward public health issue into a political one? The virus doesn’t care whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. It ravaged blue states in the spring, and now it’s plowing through red ones. All it cares about are finding open mouths and nostrils. It’s crazy that we are having this debate after all. Dozens of countries have already mandated mask-wearing in public. It’s not a coincidence that the United States remains the world’s coronavirus hot spot.
https://www.wral.com/seriously-just-wear-your-mask/19172519/

Saturday News: It was inevitable

REPUBLICAN DANNY BRITT TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS: A Republican state senator has tested positive for coronavirus, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Friday. Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, later identified himself as the one testing positive and apologized to his colleagues. Masks became a very partisan issue over the course of the session. "Why are you not wearing a mask? Why are you putting me and all of us at risk by not wearing a mask?" Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, demanded of a Republican colleague during a debate on the House floor in June. Meyer and other Democrats sent letters to Republican House and Senate leaders three weeks ago asking for more safeguards. "We’ve petitioned for mandatory masks at the legislature, asked to only have essential personnel there, asked for testing," Meyer said Friday. "But the leadership and the administration of the legislature building have refused all of those requests."
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/nc-lawmaker-tests-positive-for-coronavirus/19183154/

Friday News: Same old song & dance

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REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR VOTER ID IN NOVEMBER: Legislative Republicans called on the courts Thursday to lift an injunction and require voter to present photo identification at the polls this November, saying a bill they passed earlier this year should satisfy the last arguments against the rule. "It is past time for activist courts to stop blocking another commonsense elections policy that is required by North Carolina's constitution and a strong majority of other states," House Speaker Tim Moore said in a statement. There are two lawsuits seeking – so far, successfully – to block the state's voter ID requirement: one state and one federal. Republican lawmakers filed a motion in the state case Thursday, asking judges to drop their injunction against the state's voter ID law. They argued that a provision included in House Bill 1169 earlier this year should satisfy the court.
https://www.wral.com/republicans-press-again-to-require-photo-id-at-nc-polls-this-year/19181945/

Thursday News: Quit wasting time

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VETO OVERRIDE VOTES FAIL IN BOTH HOUSE AND SENATE: In yet another attempt to scale back North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus executive order that has kept some businesses shuttered, the General Assembly voted on two bills Wednesday to open gyms and skating rinks in the state. Both votes, one in the state House and one in the state Senate, failed to override Cooper’s vetoes of the bills. The House also voted on whether to override Cooper’s veto of two other bills. One would allow those with concealed carry permits to carry guns in private schools where people meet for worship. The other would have prevented the governor or local governments from prohibiting fireworks displays and parades to celebrate the Fourth of July. The House failed to override Cooper’s veto of either.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article244077992.html

Wednesday News: Gridlock

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GENERAL ASSEMBLY CAN'T AGREE ON SIMPLE PANDEMIC ISSUES: The House and the Senate remain divided over whether to extend the exemption to a state law against wearing masks in public past an Aug. 1 deadline so people can continue covering their faces during the coronavirus pandemic. There's also some concern over a proposal backed by the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association that would allow businesses to meet their obligation to enforce Gov. Roy Cooper's statewide mask requirement simply by posting a sign in their front windows. Lawmakers also are split on whether to give school districts the flexibility to start off the new school year with remote learning. Many are implementing plans to rotate groups of students through both in-person and remote instruction to limit the number of students at school at a given time, but state law currently says no remote learning is allowed during the first week of class.
https://www.wral.com/tuesday-wrap-mask-debate-school-restart-concerns-bowling-alley-win/19178978/

Tuesday News: Poison pill

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GOVERNOR VETOES BILL THAT WOULD BLOCK TRANSPARENCY OF POLICE KILLINGS: “Senate Bill 168 includes a provision to change the handling of public records by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner which could have the unintended consequence of limiting transparency in death investigations,” Cooper said in Monday’s release about the veto. “While I believe neither the Department of Health and Human Services, which proposed it, nor the General Assembly, which unanimously passed it, had any ill intent, the concerns that have since been raised make it clear this provision should not become law.” Dozens of protesters have camped outside the governor’s mansion since last Monday, to call on Cooper to veto SB 168. They have expressed concerns that limiting public access to the death records could hide actions that happen in police custody. Some have said the lack of transparency would only serve to increase police distrust.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article244026502.html

Monday News: Silver lining

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DUKE AND DOMINION CANCEL PLANS FOR ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE: Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced Sunday they are canceling plans for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline that was to run through eight North Carolina counties. The natural gas pipeline faced intense opposition from environmentalists, but planners had just won a U.S. Supreme Court case that would have allowed the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail. Costs were originally estimated at $5.1 billion, but ballooned to about $8 billion. In a news release, Duke Energy said it would advance its clean-energy goals with investments in renewable energy, battery storage, and other projects. The pipeline was to run from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina, including in Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland and Robeson counties.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article244015287.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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LEGISLATIVE PARTISANSHIP TRIUMPHS OVER REAL PROGRESS FOR NC: Their top priorities: Playing election-year politics; Pointless partisan jousting with the governor; Token headline-grabbing that could leave public health at risk; and Providing more places for people to carry concealed weapons. In the midst of a very real pandemic, what they are not about is working with Gov. Roy Cooper to beat the virus and plan for the future; to best position the state so it can rapidly recover when the opportunity becomes clear; or even to set examples for healthful behavior. Republicans who refuse to wear masks in the Legislative Building are acting like children. Their actions and the dangerous example they set, is helping, not slowing, the spread of COVID-19. They jeopardize our state and nation’s recovery from the ravages of the coronavirus. They need to grow up. Legislators should be heeding the advice of experts who know what they’re talking about rather than yahoos on social media spreading deadly falsehoods.
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/editorial-legislative-partisanship-triumphs-over-real-progress-for-...

Saturday News: Profiting from bigotry?

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MIKE ADAMS GRIFTS HALF A MILLION FROM UNCW: In an email sent to faculty, staff and students, UNCW Chancellor Jose Sartarelli on Thursday announced that Mike Adams, a sociology and criminology professor at UNCW, would receive $504,702 for lost salary and lost retirement benefits. The payment was approved by N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein and the UNC Board of Governors, according to Sartarelli. Sartarelli said the school was faced with three choices, including retaining Adams as a faculty member and accepting the ongoing disruption while hurting the UNCW community and the school itself. Another choice was to attempt to fire Adams and face a lengthy legal process six years after the professor won a First Amendment lawsuit in 2014 that cost the school approximately $700,000, Sartarelli said.
https://www.thetimesnews.com/news/20200703/unc-wilmington-professor-gets-504k-settlement-with-school

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