GOVERNOR COOPER BATTLES GOP LEGISLATURE OVER CONTROL OF FUNDS: Legal teams for Gov. Roy Cooper and his Republican foils in the General Assembly were back in court Wednesday, arguing over money. They disagree over which branch of government ultimately controls certain types of spending, and Superior Court Judge Henry Hight heard arguments about federal block grants and the millions set to flow from the Volkswagen settlement fund, which was created to end lawsuits tied to the car company's faulty vehicle emissions figures. Hight said he would rule on those two issues, which account for $183 million in a much broader legal dispute, as soon as Friday. The Cooper administration argues that it can direct this spending within certain limits.
NC NATIONAL GUARD NOT LIKELY TO BE SENT FOR BORDER DUTY: President Donald Trump's announcement Wednesday that he wants to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border probably won't affect anyone in the North Carolina National Guard. The White House gave very few details of its plan to further militarize the border, but one thing a Trump administration official did say was that Trump plans to ask at least the governors of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California to deploy their guard units. Unlike the active-duty military, whose commander in chief is the president, each state's National Guard units are commanded by the state's governor. If any of those states refuse to cooperate or if they can't provide enough troops — Trump has said he wants 100,000 troops on the border — it's possible Trump could look to other states for help.
TRUMP'S TRADE WAR WITH CHINA WILL SERIOUSLY HURT NC TOBACCO FARMERS: A trade war with China could have devastating impacts on North Carolina’s tobacco farmers. North Carolina exported more than $156 million in leaf tobacco to China in 2017, making the nation the largest consumer of the state’s tobacco in the world. That number is already down from more than $184 million in 2015 and $166 million in 2016, according to U.S. Census data. On Wednesday, as part of a quickly escalating trade war with the United States, China announced plans to impose 25-percent higher tariffs on more than 100 U.S. products. Tariffs on unmanufactured tobacco would rise from 10 percent to 35 percent, while duties on cigarettes and cigars would climb from their current 25 percent to 50 percent, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
AMERICAN DIPLOMATS EXPELLED FROM EMBASSY IN MOSCOW: Three buses believed to be carrying expelled American diplomats departed from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Thursday. Before the morning departure, journalists outside the embassy compound saw people leaving the residences, placing luggage on trucks. Some toted pet-carriers. Russia last week ordered 60 American diplomats to leave the country by Thursday in retaliation for the United States expelling the same number of Russians. The moves were part of a deepening dispute over the nerve-agent poisoning in Britain of a Russian former double-agent and his daughter. Britain alleges Russian involvement, which Moscow vehemently denies. More than 150 diplomats have been expelled by Britain and allies, and Russia has ordered reciprocal moves.
TRUMP SPARS WITH PENTAGON OVER U.S. TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM SYRIA: President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but held off setting a date after his foreign policy advisers warned that a premature pullout from the multi-sided maelstrom could repeat U.S. mistakes in Iraq and give Russia and Iran even greater sway in the region. The decision, reached at a White House meeting Tuesday, marked a compromise between Trump, who has publicly called for a rapid withdrawal of the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops now deployed in Syria, and senior Pentagon officials, who believe that Islamic State and its allies could regenerate and pose a new terrorist threat if U.S. forces leave too quickly. In a sign of the war’s complex alliances, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently threatened to attack U.S. forces who are supporting Syrian Kurdish guerrillas fighting Islamic State. Turkey considers the guerrillas to be allies of a Turkish terrorist group.