DOMINION WANTS TO RUN GAS PIPELINE ALONG AMERICAN TOBACCO TRAIL: “What you’ll have is kind of a skinny canopy along the trail, rather than trees that go back 9 or 10 deep,” Devereux said in an interview. “It’s going to change the character of the trail markedly for a while during construction, and then the long-term change to the canopy will not be a plus.” Devereux learned of the potential use of the trail corridor for the pipeline only last week and posted an item about it on the conservancy’s Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. Dave Connelly, a long-time trail advocate and user in Durham, soon sent an email to several Triangle government officials asking how such a potentially disruptive project could have gotten this far unnoticed. “It’s incredible that neither NCDOT nor the Board of Transportation thought to mention this to people who use the ATT,” Connelly wrote. “If someone wanted to plant a pipeline on the North Carolina Railroad corridor, do you think NCRR would not mention it to Norfolk Southern?”
NC SENATE REPUBLICANS WANT TO PUT $623 MILLION (MORE) INTO RAINY DAY FUND: The government spending bills largely lack price tags. The three senators — Republicans Harry Brown, Kathy Harrington and Brent Jackson — said in a news release that the amounts won’t be clear until an updated tax collections forecast is released by state economists. One Senate bill would put an additional $623 million in the state’s rainy day reserve fund, which currently holds almost $1.2 billion. The Senate's spending priorities will compete with those from the Republican-controlled House and from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper during the annual General Assembly session, which is likely to continue through June. The budget process ran off the tracks last year when Cooper vetoed the GOP’s two-year spending plan and attempts at compromise sputtered. State government has operated this year under a series of separate “mini-budget” bills that Cooper agreed to sign. Another measure filed Tuesday would create a reserve to fund salaries for teachers, police officers and other key workers. Other bills would cover enrollment growth in the public schools and the university and community college systems.
RESTAURANTS ON TRACK TO REOPEN THIS WEEKEND AT HALF CAPACITY: Since late April, state officials suggested May 22 could be the Phase 2 reopening date for bars and restaurants if certain coronavirus benchmarks were met, such as a decreasing or flattened case counts and hospitalizations. In a news briefing Tuesday, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the state was meeting those benchmarks and that she expected North Carolina to move into Phase Two “at the end of this week.” Minges said she’s pleased North Carolina has reached the point of reopening restaurants, but said the industry’s struggles remain. “It should be a celebratory day, we’re one step closer, but restaurants will not be profitable for some time,” Minges said. “Most restaurants I’ve talked to are excited and looking forward to getting their teams back together. At the same time, we know many will not open immediately. Restaurants are not designed to operate at half capacity.” Some states have passed temporary legislation aimed at offering bars and restaurants a few lifelines as the industry faces months of uncertain business.
ASIAN-AMERICANS SUFFER INCREASED RACISM DURING PANDEMIC: Across the country, Asian American health-care workers have reported a rise in bigoted incidents. The racial hostility has left Asian Americans, who represent 6 percent of the U.S. population but 18 percent of the country’s physicians and 10 percent of its nurse practitioners, in a painful position on the front lines of the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Some covid-19 patients refuse to be treated by them. And when doctors and nurses leave the hospital, they face increasing harassment in their daily lives, too. “People are worried about transmission of a disease that they associate with foreignness and Asian faces,” said Grace Kao, a Yale University sociologist. “Nothing erases what we look like.” Some academic experts on race say President Trump’s rhetoric around the virus and China has contributed to the rise in racial harassment. For weeks, Trump deliberately referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” despite guidance from public health officials to avoid attaching locations or ethnicity to a disease. He has since tweeted that Asian Americans are not to be blamed for the virus’s spread. White House adviser Peter Navarro, in an ABC News interview Sunday, accused China of sending “hundreds of thousands of Chinese” to “seed” the coronavirus around the world. And Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) drew criticism after he blamed the virus’s spread on “thugs in China” in a high school graduation speech over the weekend. “With the China-bashing and with the economy tanking and more deaths from covid-19, we expect anti-Asian bias to only increase,” Jeung said. “People make automatic assumptions, especially in times of threats, and go into fight-or-flight mode. The fight mode is attacking or harassing Asians, and the flight mode is shunning Asians.”
FIRST CAGES, NOW SWIFT DEPORTATION, FOR MIGRANT CHILDREN IN BORDER PATROL CUSTODY: Hundreds of migrant children and teenagers have been swiftly deported by American authorities amid the coronavirus pandemic without the opportunity to speak to a social worker or plea for asylum from the violence in their home countries — a reversal of years of established practice for dealing with young foreigners who arrive in the United States. The deportations represent an extraordinary shift in policy that has been unfolding in recent weeks on the southwestern border, under which safeguards that have for decades been granted to migrant children by both Democratic and Republican administrations appear to have been abandoned. Historically, young migrants who showed up at the border without adult guardians were provided with shelter, education, medical care and a lengthy administrative process that allowed them to make a case for staying in the United States. Those who were eventually deported were sent home only after arrangements had been made to assure they had a safe place to return to. That process appears to have been abruptly thrown out under President Trump’s latest border decrees. Some young migrants have been deported within hours of setting foot on American soil. Others have been rousted from their beds in the middle of the night in U.S. government shelters and put on planes out of the country without any notification to their families. The Trump administration is justifying the new practices under a 1944 law that grants the president broad power to block foreigners from entering the country in order to prevent the “serious threat” of a dangerous disease. But immigration officials in recent weeks have also been abruptly expelling migrant children and teenagers who were already in the United States when the pandemic-related order came down in late March.