TRIO OF LGBTQ BILLS INTRODUCED IN NC HOUSE: House Democrats introduced three gay rights bills on Thursday that would repeal the remains of HB2; make it illegal to practice conversion therapy on minors and disabled adults; and expand North Carolina’s anti-discrimination laws to include gender identity, sexual orientation and military or veteran status. House Bills 514, 515 and 516 were announced at a news conference in the legislative building by some of the bills’ sponsors and representatives from LGBTQ advocacy groups. “This historic slate of legislation is a collective effort towards making life more equitable and safe for queer North Carolinians who deserve the basic dignity of living, loving and growing without fear of prejudice or violence,” said Kendra R. Johnson, executive director of Equity North Carolina, who attended the event. “Together, we can build a state that enables LGBTQ folks from all walks of life to prosper and show the world that North Carolina truly is a beautiful place to be queer.”
CYBERSTALKING REPUBLICAN CODY HENSON MAKES COURT APPEARANCE: News outlets report second-term Republican Rep. Cody Henson of Transylvania County made his first appearance Thursday. A state judge granted a protective order against Henson last month after determining text messages his estranged wife received amounted to "mental harassment." The order is effective until January. His appearance reinforced that he's not allowed to have contact with her. He also can't have a gun. Henson announced Tuesday he won't seek re-election so he could spend more time with his children. He declined to comment on the accusations Thursday. Henson represents Transylvania and Polk counties and part of Henderson County. He has another court appearance scheduled May 2.
TIM MOORE GETS FACT-CHECKED ON HIS FOX NEWS IMMIGRATION NONSENSE: Before Ingraham asks Moore a question (around the 21-minute mark of this video), she plays a video clip of a speech by Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller. “We do not make or enforce immigration laws,” Miller says in the video. “That is not part of our law enforcement duties. I will be attacked for this policy directive, maybe even by ICE. However, a detainer request is not a valid warrant.” Ingraham then asks Moore what he wants to say to the sheriff. Moore responds: “Respectfully, I say that sheriff is wrong.” To cut the confusion, we wanted to clarify the legal clout of ICE detainers. As it turns out, the Buncombe County sheriff’s claim is right. An ICE detainer request “carries no legal force and does not authorize state and local officials to hold anyone in custody — it is not an arrest warrant and does not provide probable cause for arrest,” Anil Kalhan, a law professor at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, told PolitiFact in November. Kalhan’s statement echoes several federal court rulings.
FEDERAL LEGALIZATION OF HEMP HAS POLICE MISTAKENLY ARRESTING TRUCKERS FOR TRANSPORTING IT: Truckers, now free to haul hemp from state to state, have been stopped and sometimes arrested by police who can’t tell whether they have intercepted a legal agricultural crop or the biggest marijuana bust of their careers. That’s because the only way to distinguish hemp and marijuana, which look and smell alike, is by measuring their tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and officers don’t have the testing technology to do so on the spot. Marijuana, illegal under federal law , has enough THC to get users high. Hemp has almost none — 0.3 percent or less under U.S. government standards — yet drug-sniffing dogs will alert on both. Field tests that officers now use can detect THC but aren’t sophisticated enough to specify whether a shipment is legal hemp or low-grade illegal pot. In a sign of the significance of the problem, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration earlier this month put out a request for information on private companies that might have the technology for field tests sensitive enough to distinguish between hemp and marijuana. “Nobody wants to see someone in jail for a month for the wrong thing,” DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno said. “To enable us to do our job, we have to have something that can help us distinguish.”
560 SQUARE MILE ICEBERG ON THE VERGE OF BREAKING OFF ANTARCTICA: Two rifts on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica are close to creating an iceberg over 560 square miles in size. Scientists say the calving event could happen any day now. An image captured on Dec. 30, 2016, showed the two rifts advancing through the shelf after being stable for about 30 years. Scientists say the break could trigger further retreat of the shelf. Without support from the McDonald Ice Rumples, the ice flow may get faster. The resulting iceberg from the break will be about twice the size of New York City “This calving is a huge one for Brunt,” said Eric Rignot, a climate scientist at the University of California, Irvine, who has done extensive research on polar ice. “Brunt put that ice in store for probably a century and is about to let it go.”