NC TEACHERS FORMING CONGRESS WHICH MAY LEAD TO WALKOUTS: Red4EdNC is asking educators to sign its "Declaration in Defense of North Carolina's Public Schoolchildren," which lists grievances with state legislators such as inadequate school funding. The teachers advocacy group says the declaration will lead to the formation of a "Teachers Congress" that will develop "collective actions" that will be used by teachers if legislators don't agree to their demands. Angie Scioli, founder of Red4EdNC, said the Teachers Congress will look at what's happened in other states, such as Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia, where teachers used strikes and walkouts to press for changes. She said all options would be on the table. "We’re the teachers on the front lines and in the classrooms. You can fool a lot of people on the degree to which public education is being supported to people who aren’t in classrooms every day, but we are teachers and we know."
DAN FOREST & GANG TRY TO RILE UP HOG FARMERS OVER LAWSUITS: Republican politicians are heading to an eastern North Carolina farm to talk why they're worried litigation involving hog farms could harm the state's economy. A top GOP legislator says Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and other lawmakers plan to attend a news conference Tuesday at a Duplin County farm to highlight the "unfairness" of recent and pending lawsuits. Neighbors to farms producing hogs for Smithfield Foods have filed dozens of lawsuits complaining their odors and activities are a nuisance. Juries for two lawsuits already tried have returned multimillion-dollar verdicts against Smithfield. The first verdict caused the General Assembly last month to approve new restrictions on initiating these nuisance lawsuits, passing it over Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto. But the new law can't halt pending cases.
BIG SURPRISE, NEW REPUBLICAN LAW WILL REDUCE EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS IN NC: The cost to implement a recently-passed state law has left many North Carolina counties' boards of elections unsure how to manage early voting for this November's midterm elections, and some are planning to offer fewer voting locations to comply with the law. While all counties must have a central early voting site open during business hours, most counties have also used additional "one-stop" voting sites, operated by volunteers and temporary paid staffers. Those sites accommodate voters for whom the central polling place, usually located at the Board of Elections office, is less convenient. Senate Bill 325 — approved last month despite a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper — requires that each one-stop voting site remains open for the entirety of the early voting period, with mandatory hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. In a Friday memo, the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement set a July 20 deadline for county boards to turn in this year's one-stop site plans. Each board must deliver separate, unanimously approved plans, or the state elections board will have to settle disputed plans.
MCCONNELL BRAZENLY ADMITS TO PUSHING YOUNG JUSTICES TO REMAKE THE COURT FOR DECADES: "When the political winds shift, Congress never leaves policy issues alone," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has served as the legislative architect of Trump's remaking of the courts. "When we did comprehensive tax reform 30 years ago, it lasted four years. What I want to do is make a lasting contribution to the country. And by appointing and confirming these highly intelligent nominees to the courts who are in their late 40s or early 50s, I believe, working in conjunction with the administration, we're making a generational change in our country that will be repeated over and over and over down through the years," he added. Trump was intent on maximizing the impact of his appointments by studiously seeking out a younger nominee, according to officials involved in the process. Kavanaugh, 53, could reasonably be expected to serve three decades on the high court.
NIGHTMARE ENDS AS ALL 12 BOYS AND COACH RESCUED FROM THAI CAVES: Rescue operations reached a successful climax at the Tham Luang Cave complex in northern Thailand on Tuesday, where divers pulled the last trapped members of the Wild Boars soccer team to safety. Twelve young team members and their coach had been trapped in the flooded cave complex in Chiang Rai province since June 23. Narrow passageways, near-zero visibility and the constant threat of a monsoon made the rescue operation incredibly difficult. Saman Gunan, 38, a former member of the Thai navy SEALs, died after he lost consciousness while placing spare air tanks along the route to the cavern where the boys are trapped. Thai and foreign divers rigged a static rope line through the underwater portions to guide their way. The adults and the children could pull themselves along such a line, which made navigation easier and reduced the chances of anyone getting lost underwater.