INTERIM PRESIDENT WANTS FIRING POWER OVER UNC PROFS WHO HOLD BACK GRADES: Teachers at UNC schools who intentionally withhold grades — to protest university policies or actions, for example — can be fired, the UNC system’s Board of Governors was told Thursday. Interim UNC President Bill Roper asked Arden to say again whether professors could be fired for withholding grades. Yes, Arden said. “It was threatened, I know that,” Roper said. He said it was frustrating to hear such a threat used because withholding grades “harms a lot of people.” On hearing of the threat last fall, Roper said, it made him think of the adage, “There ought to be a law,” to prevent or punish such willful dereliction of duty.
NEIGHBORHOOD SUES DUKE ENERGY TO AVOID HOMES BEING BULLDOZED: Nearly two dozen homeowners in the Buffalo Creek subdivision near Zebulon are in the fight of their lives for their homes. In 2017, homeowners started receiving letters from Duke Energy informing them their homes, or part of their land, are on property owned by the utility company. Carolina Power & Light, which later merged into Duke, acquired a 180-foot-wide easement in 1987 for future power lines. However, those easements were omitted from plat maps when the neighborhood was built. "Our homes never should have been built. There should have never been certificates of occupancy, and none of us would be in this position,” said Carly Williams, one of the frustrated homeowners. Williams said she wonders why surveyors, Fred Smith Co., which built the homes off Thanksgiving Fire Road in Johnston County, and Duke, which supplies power to the neighborhood, all lost track of the easements.
GOP CANDIDATES IN NC03 ELECTION TARGET ALEXANDRA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Republican candidates vying for the nomination in a crowded field in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District have found someone to run against — a freshman representative from New York. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a first-term lawmaker from the Bronx and frequent foil of conservatives, is at the forefront of an ad by Republican Michele Nix, a former state party official. Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal — an environment and jobs program — also appeared in an ad from another of the 17 Republicans in the special election to replace the late Rep. Walter Jones in the U.S. House. The primary will be held April 30 and early voting begins April 10. There are also six Democrats, two Libertarians and one Constitution Party candidate in the race. Nix’s ad, called “Bless Her Heart,” opens with Ocasio-Cortez’s name on the screen. It then cuts to multiple photos and videos of her.
TRUMP DOESN'T WANT CONGRESS TO KNOW WHAT HE SAID TO PUTIN: In a letter earlier this month, the House intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees asked for the substance of Trump and Putin’s conversations in person and by phone. They also asked for any documents related to the conversations, information on whether the talks had any impact on U.S. foreign policy, and information on whether Trump tried to conceal any evidence of them. On Thursday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to the Democratic chairmen of the three committees rebuffing all those requests. “The president must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed and used as fodder for partisan political purposes,” Cipollone wrote, adding, “No foreign leader would engage in private conversations with the president, or the president’s senior advisors, if such conversations were subject to public disclosure (or disclosure to committees of Congress).”
2019 MAY END UP BEING THE "YEAR OF THE FLOOD": Vast areas of the United States are at risk of flooding this spring, even as Nebraska and other Midwestern states are already reeling from record-breaking late-winter floods, federal scientists said on Thursday. Nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states will have an elevated risk of some flooding from now until May, and 25 states could experience “major or moderate flooding,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The flooding this year could be worse than anything we’ve seen in recent years, even worse than the historic floods of 1993 and 2011,” said Mary C. Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service, in a conference call with reporters. The major flooding this month in Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and elsewhere is “a preview of what we expect throughout the rest of the spring,” she said. More rainfall in the Midwest is a predictable consequence of climate change, according to the most recent National Climate Assessment, which was produced last year by 13 federal agencies. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which comes down as precipitation.