POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN BLOCKS TRAFFIC ON JONES STREET TO HIGHLIGHT POVERTY AND INJUSTICE: Protesters blocked traffic in front of the North Carolina Legislative Building on Monday as part of a national campaign to draw attention to poverty in statehouses across the country. Raleigh police cited 49 people with impeding the flow of traffic on Jones Street, which passes by the front door of the halls of power in North Carolina's capital where the Republican-led General Assembly has spent much of the past decade charting a new political course for this state. At the afternoon protest, they hoisted signs that said "Systemic Racism Is Immoral," "Invest in People Not Prisons," "Fight Poverty, Not the Poor," "Got Money For War, But Can't Feed the Poor." It was one of many days of protest and direct action scheduled during the next 40 days, culminating in a rally in Washington, D.C.
NC DEMOCRATS UNVEIL ISSUE PLATFORM FOR 2018 CAMPAIGN SEASON: "People want to know what you’re for, not just what you’re against," Jackson, D-Wake, said. "Of course, Donald Trump has created an environment that’s created a lot of excitement among our base, but it’s our job to tell people what we would do differently from the Republicans, and that’s what we’re doing here today." Their agenda, labeled "Our Carolina Promise," includes many proposals the party’s been pushing for years, from increasing school spending and expanding Medicaid to protecting voter rights and resurrecting the state Earned Income Tax Credit. It also includes a few less partisan proposals, such as infrastructure spending and broadband expansion. One item could have come straight from the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket: A proposal to enact independent redistricting reform.
SMALLER AREA MAKES LOGISTICS FOR TEACHER RALLY COMPLICATED: Mark Jewell, president of NCAE, said that around 10:45 a.m., the group will get as many people into the galleries of the legislature building as possible. The building can hold about 3,000 people, he said. The General Assembly will convene at noon. At 1 p.m., educators participating in the day’s events will disperse for lunch, to visit legislative offices, downtown museums and businesses and to peruse booths of organizations that will be set up in the surrounding area. At 3 p.m., the group will hold its rally, with stages and speakers set up on Bicentennial Plaza, though the area can hold fewer than 1,000 people. The rest, Jewell said, will overflow onto the grounds of the Capitol Building, directly to the south. Activities are expected to wrap up by 4:30 p.m. With 10,000 to 20,000 educators expected for Wednesday's “March for Students and Rally for Respect” in Raleigh, you might expect the crowd to gather on Halifax Mall, the big grassy area to the north of the legislative building. But that space already was taken by another group, the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority's "Divine Nine Legislative Day."
TRUMP'S JERUSALEM EMBASSY MOVE FURTHER SHADOWED BY PALESTINIAN DEATH TOLL: President Donald Trump's prospects for brokering the Mideast peace "deal of the century" plunged ever deeper as the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem opened amid bloodshed in Gaza. The day fueled global concern that U.S. policies are tipping the broader Middle East into deeper, intractable conflict. The embassy move, which Trump hailed a "great day" for Israel even as dozens of Palestinians were killed in Gaza, damaged Washington's stature as a mediator between those parties. And it's but the latest in a series of U.S. decisions that may have set off a domino effect of unpredictable consequences. "Traditionally we've tried to play a role of fireman in the Middle East. Now we're playing the role of arsonist," said Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department and Pentagon official who runs the Mideast program at the Center for a New American Security.
SCOTT PRUITT'S PERSONAL SECURITY FETISH MAY HAVE BEEN EFFORT TO DIVERT RESOURCES: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt demanded and received unprecedented around-the-clock armed security protection on his very first day, according to new details disclosed Monday by the agency’s internal watchdog. EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins said in letters to Democratic senators that Pruitt himself initiated the 24-hour-a day protection. Pruitt’s staff has previously said the enhanced protection, which far exceeds that afforded to past EPA administrators, was triggered by death threats. The Associated Press reported last month that Pruitt’s preoccupation with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers, as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes. Altogether, the agency has spent about $3 million on Pruitt’s 20-member full-time security detail, which is more than three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent.