DEQ TO DEPLOY RAINWATER MONITORS TO BETTER TRACK CHEMICAL CONTAMINATION: State researchers plan to install long-term rain catchers around the Chemours facility in Bladen County and in other far-flung locations around North Carolina in a stepped-up effort to isolate chemicals from the plant that are appearing in rain. The new devices also have motion sensors so that they're only open when it rains, allowing scientists to test rainwater and "dry deposits" separately. Tests have already found GenX, a compound Chemours uses to make Teflon and other products, in rain as far away as Wilmington. But at only one site, just east of Chemours' Fayetteville Works, has the concentration found been above the state's best guess at a safe level of the poorly understood industrial chemical.
NC CITY LEADERS PUSH FOR NEW BROADBAND BILL THAT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF "DARK FIBER": Supporters of the bill say cities, towns and counties could make use of what's known as "dark fiber" — additional capacity in existing infrastructure that government uses to connect traffic lights, schools and public facilities. The League of Municipalities study found that the public-private partnership model is "probably the best way to extend it to the hard to reach places in our state," said Erin Wynia, author of the report. "Frankly, this challenge won't be met solely by the public sector or solely by the private sector." The report also found potential for the state's electric cooperatives to help by leasing their infrastructure, but current law doesn't allow electric easements to be used for telecommunications purposes. Another recommendation is a "dig once" policy requiring government agencies to install broadband conduits (essentially pipes that can house fiber internet lines) during other construction projects, putting the infrastructure in place for future leases to internet providers.
TRUMP REPLACES H.R. MCMASTER WITH NEOCON JOHN BOLTON: Charging ahead with the dramatic remaking of his White House, President Donald Trump said Thursday he would replace national security adviser H.R. McMaster with the former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a foreign policy hawk entering a White House facing key decisions on Iran and North Korea. The national security shakeup comes as the president is increasingly shedding advisers who once eased the Republican establishment's concerns about the foreign policy and political novice in the White House. McMaster is the sixth close adviser or aide to announce a departure in a turbulent six weeks, joining ally Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was unceremoniously fired last week.
CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS PRESERVE SAFETY NET IN MASSIVE $1.3 TRILLION BUDGET: Congress gave final approval Friday to a giant $1.3 trillion spending bill that ends the budget battles for now, but only after late scuffles and conservatives objected to big outlays on Democratic priorities at a time when Republicans control the House, Senate and White House. Senate passage shortly after midnight averted a third federal shutdown this year, an outcome both parties wanted to avoid. But in crafting a sweeping deal that busts budget caps, they've stirred conservative opposition and set the contours for the next funding fight ahead of the midterm elections. The House easily approved the measure Thursday, 256-167, a bipartisan tally that underscored the popularity of the compromise, which funds the government through September. It beefs up military and domestic programs, delivering federal funds to every corner of the country.
CHINA STRIKES BACK AGAINST TRUMP TARIFF'S, NC'S PORK EXPORTS IN THE CROSSHAIRS: China announced a $3 billion list of U.S. goods for possible retaliation in a tariff dispute with President Donald Trump and girded Friday for a bigger battle over technology policy as financial markets sank on fears of global disruption. The Commerce Ministry said higher duties on pork, apples, steel pipe and other goods would offset Chinese losses due to Trump's tariff hike on steel and aluminum imports. It urged Washington to negotiate a settlement but set no deadline. In a separate and potentially bigger dispute, the ministry criticized Trump's decision Thursday to approve a possible tariff hike on Chinese imports worth up to $60 billion over Beijing's technology policy. It gave no indication of a possible response but a foreign ministry spokeswoman said Beijing was "fully prepared to defend" its interests.