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Monday News: Rape culture

LESS THAN 1 IN 4 SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES END IN CONVICTION: Fewer than one in four defendants charged with sexual assault in North Carolina can expect to be convicted of that charge or a related reduced charge, and some parts of the state generate few if any sexual assault convictions, according to Carolina Public Press’ analysis of state court data. The picture is not universal. A few counties have conviction levels well above the state average. But in 38 counties, there were no recorded convictions at all during the 4½ years included in the analysis, not even on plea deals reducing original sexual assault charges to lesser offenses. The analysis specifically examined rape charges involving threats, force, intimidation or an incapacitated person. Defendants at times pleaded guilty to some separate charge, such as possession of a firearm by a felon or sexual battery, a misdemeanor.
https://carolinapublicpress.org/28695/analysis-nc-convicts-fewer-than-1-in-4-sexual-assault-defendants/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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COOPER'S BUDGET PUTS PUBLIC EDUCATION ON RIGHT TRACK: Teacher pay isn’t the only, the best or even most significant, marker for support for education. Cuts force teachers to turn to online fundraising or dig into their own pockets for basic classroom supplies. There’s a shortage of school nurses, guidance counselors and psychologists. Classrooms are badly in need of technology upgrades. Too many school buildings desperately need repairs and renovations. In many growing areas there simply aren’t enough classrooms to house students. Responding by providing pay bonuses to teachers who get trained and carry firearms in their classrooms – as proposed by state Sen. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County and backed by key Senate leaders – is a cynical, token and dangerous gesture.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-cooper-s-budget-puts-public-education-on-right-track/18253984/

Saturday News: Too many hurdles

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12 UNC SYSTEM SCHOOLS MISS DEADLINE ON VOTER ID REQUIREMENTS: Student IDs from a dozen University of North Carolina schools, including UNC-Chapel Hill, didn't get the signoff they needed Friday for students to use them at the polls during the 2020 elections. With a deadline in state law passing, it's up to the General Assembly to act, or these IDs won't satisfy the state's new voter ID law next year. The problem for most of the universities: They let students provide pictures for their own IDs. A law passed after voters approved a constitutional amendment in November requiring photo identification at the polls requires universities to take those pictures themselves or to have a contractor do it. Campus-by-campus practices also vary on Social Security numbers and other key identifiers, leaving some schools out of step with the law.
https://www.wral.com/no-voter-id-approval-for-12-unc-campuses-including-chapel-hill/18263233/

Friday News: Anti-immigrant fervor

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HOUSE REPUBLICANS WANT TO FORCE SHERIFFS TO COOPERATE WITH ICE: In addition to no longer letting sheriffs decide whether to work with ICE, the bill would also increase the number of people who have their immigration status checked when arrested. State law currently instructs officials to check the immigration status of anyone charged with a felony or a DUI. But this new bill would make them check the immigration status of anyone charged with any crime. Birdsong said that could end up being costly for local governments who hadn’t budgeted for the additional jail population this bill would create. The bill is also an example of an over-reaching big government, she said. “What you see in this bill is a thwarting of local officials making decisions on how to keep their communities safe, and also a thwarting of the will of the people,” Birdsong said. “People voted for these sheriffs for a reason.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article227760179.html

Thursday News: Failure to act

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FBI KNEW ABOUT MCCRAE DOWLESS AS EARLY AS MAY 2018: The search warrants also show state officials have worked actively with the U.S. Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section out of Washington, D.C., on the investigation since at least May 2018. That's when FBI Special Agent James Kaylor conducted surveillance on Dowless while he met with people outside a Bladenboro gas station where one of the CashPoints ATMs was located, according an affidavit filed with the search warrant. In October, Kaylor also accompanied an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation during an interview with Tonia Gordon, one of the Dowless associates charged last month. Kaylor is listed as the point of contact in DOJ subpoenas revealed earlier this week that demand records from the State Board of Elections, Dowless and Republican Mark Harris, who hired Dowless during his Congressional run in the 9th District.
https://www.wral.com/unsealed-warrants-show-fbi-probed-9th-district-issues-before-18-election/18238855/

Wednesday News: Voter ID delayed

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BUT DEADLINE FOR COLLEGE ID PAPERWORK STILL IN PLACE: The state Senate voted Tuesday to essentially delay all photo ID requirements for the 2019 elections. Democrats largely voted against the measure because the bill didn't also deal with the college ID issue, which Republicans were content to put off for now, and which won't be relevant until the 2020 elections. The State Board of Elections hasn't had time to implement all the rules controlling voter ID at the polls, which the General Assembly laid the groundwork for in December, and there are two special congressional elections scheduled this year. Senate Republicans were unwilling Tuesday to tack a change into their 2019 delay bill, saying they wanted to see first how many colleges act by the deadline. They tabled two Democratic amendments on the issue.
https://www.wral.com/voter-id-delay-moving-but-what-about-student-ids/18253734/

Tuesday News: Equal treatment

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TRANSGENDER STATE EMPLOYEES SUE DALE FOLWELL AFTER COVERAGE DISCONTINUED: They say the State Health Plan discriminates against them by not covering costs related to gender dysphoria, the medical term for when someone identifies as a gender different from their physical sex. Max Kadel, a transgender man who works at UNC-Chapel Hill, said the State Health Plan will not cover breast-reduction surgery for him, even though it would cover a non-transgender man or woman who wanted the exact same surgery. That message of unequal treatment was echoed by another transgender man who is part of the lawsuit, former N.C. State University employee Sam Silvaine. “I’ve been sent the message that my medical needs are not valid, and my mental and physical health are not important,” Silvaine said.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article227408274.html

Monday News: Costly mistakes

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NC GOVERNMENT PAYOUTS TO AVOID LAWSUITS REACH INTO THE MILLIONS: The city of Charlotte provided documents describing the settlement terms of more than 50 lawsuits. Among other things, the documents show that the city paid $950,000 last year to the family of a man who in 2017 was killed by a speeding police car. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer was driving up to 100 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone when his car slammed into James Michael Short. The city spent another $9,045 settling a claim after Wilmington police busted into an apartment, pulled a woman out of bed and handcuffed her. She was undressed from the waist down, and repeatedly asked the male officers to cover her exposed body – a request they refused. Authorities later realized they were at the wrong address, and the woman they’d handcuffed was not connected to the warrant they were trying to serve.
https://www.wral.com/behind-the-scenes-of-government-millions-in-payouts-and-little-transparency/182...

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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FINDING LIPSTICK TO PUT ON AN ELECTION-FRAUD PIG: It all made for riveting news from a state that has been in the spotlight too many times for all the wrong reasons in recent years, and the sad tale confirms some unflattering facts about North Carolina political life. It exposes questionable election practices that may have been going on for years, in at least some counties, and brings up possibilities that law enforcement and prosecutors may have been asleep at the wheel at best and turning a blind eye at worst. It suggests that some candidates want to win so badly they will cheat to do so. And make no mistake. Voter fraud in which a person tries to or does vote illegally is not in the same league as election fraud, where numerous ballots, in this case absentee ballots, are cast illegally. Some say a few ballots were cast illegally in the 9th Congressional District, some say hundreds were, and it could have been thousands.
https://www.wral.com/margaret-dickson-finding-lipstick-to-put-on-an-election-fraud-pig/18247420/

Saturday News: Protecting rapists?

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GOP BILL ALLOWS PERPETRATORS TO QUESTION THEIR VICTIMS IN CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT PROCEEDINGS: A bill introduced by a North Carolina lawmaker on Thursday would add legal protections for UNC system students who are accused of sexual misconduct. It also would standardize disciplinary proceedings for students at all 16 university campuses. House Bill 305, introduced by Rep. Mitchell Setzer, a Catawba County Republican, would provide due process guarantees that don’t exist now for students accused of sexual misconduct. Setzer did not immediately respond to requests to discuss the bill or what prompted him to introduce it. Co-sponsors Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, and Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, also could not not immediately be reached. The UNC Board of Governors, which would have to adopt new rules under the law, did not wish to comment on it.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article227326134.html

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