Daily dose

Wednesday News: Making history, the right way

CHERI BEASLEY IS FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN FEMALE CHIEF JUSTICE: Beasley will make history as the first black woman to be the state’s top judge. “This is not the North Carolina of 200 years ago,” she said in the press conference at the Governor’s Mansion where Cooper announced her new role. Beasley has been a judge for the last 20 years and has been on the Supreme Court since 2012. She was a public defender in Fayetteville before becoming a judge. Judges in North Carolina are usually elected, not appointed. But when former Chief Justice Mark Martin announced in January that he would retire this month, to take a job leading a Virginia law school, state law gave Cooper the power to pick someone to take Martin’s place.

Tuesday News: The house is on fire


NC FARMERS GIVE PERDUE AN EARFUL OVER TRUMP'S TRADE WARS: In a pair of question-and-answer sessions, Secretary Sonny Perdue heard from farmers who are frustrated and trending toward desperate with weeks to go before new crops go into the ground. A trade war has stopped the flow of tobacco to China, once the crop's No. 1 buyer. Trade deals with Mexico and Canada have been reworked, but their approval depends on Congress. A pair of hurricanes devastated crops across this part of the state two out of the last three years. "It's the most critical time I've seen in agriculture, and I started farming in 1975," Jerome Vick told Perdue. Take this message back to Washington, Vick said: "This is not just a bump in the road. In eastern North Carolina, the house is on fire." Take this one back, too, Brent Leggett said, reading a text message from his 12-year-old son, Colin: "Tell (Perdue) to tell Trump to make a deal with China."

Monday News: The wrong direction


NC REGULATORS GOING AFTER HEMP-BASED CBD PRODUCTS: State regulators are launching a crackdown on hemp products that are not allowed under federal law. They're going after certain items that contain CBD - a compound derived from the marijuana plant, but without the psycho-active chemical that produces a high. The Hemp Boutique in Cary sells CBD in a variety of forms, including dark chocolate, honey sticks, coffee, cheesecake-flavored bars and gummy worms. Alyssa Schuster said she visits the store five times a week because the CBD helps her sleep. But after seeking guidance from the feds, state regulators say the Food and Drug Administration considers CBD a drug and bans it from being added to food. Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Reardon says CBD packaged in food could end up in the wrong mouths.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


DON'T LET DRILLING PUT THE NC COAST AT RISK: Since the New Year, seven state legislatures along the East Coast have proposed bills to prohibit or restrict offshore drilling in their states in addition to the four states that have already passed their own measures in 2018. Many of these localized bills have been filed in conjunction with legislation at the national level to prevent offshore gas and oil infrastructure development. Even before the drills start spinning, environmental damage occurs during the seismic testing phase of exploration planning, during which sonic airguns are fired to detect pockets of oil beneath the ocean floor. These airgun bursts are disruptive to wildlife behaviors and patterns, as well as drastically increasing the mortality of zooplankton, an important segment of the food web. Oil and gas infrastructure is particularly susceptible to damage from extreme weather conditions. With the wounds of this past hurricane season still fresh, the Southern Environmental Law Center published a report last fall highlighting the dangers and risks of constructing gas and oil infrastructure in hurricane-prone regions.

Saturday News: Federal bullies

200 ARRESTED BY ICE IN RETALIATION FOR SHERIFFS NOT COOPERATING: After North Carolina’s largest counties cut ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency said it’s been forced to adopt a “new normal”: one that resulted in the arrest of hundreds of immigrants living here illegally this week. “This is the direct conclusion of dangerous policies of not cooperating with ICE,” said Sean Gallagher, who oversees the agency’s operation in the Carolinas and Georgia. “This forces my officers to go out onto the street to conduct more enforcement.” Sheriffs in Mecklenburg, Wake and Durham counties — all of whom emphasized severing ties with ICE in their campaign platforms last year — defended this shift, rejecting the notion that it had made their jurisdictions more dangerous. And immigrant rights groups blasted ICE for stoking fear and using the decisions of local law enforcement to justify heightened ICE enforcement.

Friday News: Giving the cold shoulder to ICE


FORSYTH COUNTY SHERIFF WILL NO LONGER DETAIN IMMIGRANTS: The Forsyth County Sheriff says he will stop accepting detainees from Immigration and Customs Enforcement who are being held on immigration violations, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr. follows similar decisions by the sheriffs in Wake and Durham counties last month. He made the announcement Wednesday after a rally by supporters of a man being held by ICE in the jail, according to the newspaper. “Currently, the sheriff’s office is not an extension, and will never will be an extension, in this administration, of immigration services,” Kimbrough said, according to the Journal. “We are not helping ICE. We have not arrested anyone on immigration violations, nor do we plan on it.”

Thursday News: Imminent threat

COOPER WARNS CONGRESS ABOUT INACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called on the United States to reassert itself as a global leader in the fight against climate change, telling a divided congressional committee of the economic, commercial and personal toll of climate change to his state while touting his moves as chief executive. “We can’t afford not to take urgent action to fight climate change. It is not too late, but it soon may be,” Cooper told members of the U.S. House’s Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday in the first of a series of Democratic-led hearings on climate change. Cooper appeared alongside Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican. Cooper said there is “overwhelming scientific consensus” on climate change and the role humans are playing in it. And he outlined damage that storms and severe weather events have caused in North Carolina in recent years, including hurricanes Matthew and Florence, mudslides in the mountains, animal- and crop-killing heat in the summers and the loss of crops due to flooding and heavy rains.

Wednesday News: Time to testify


MCCREADY BLASTS HARRIS OVER ABSENTEE BALLOT FRAUD: "We don't know if he stole hundreds of votes or thousands of votes," he said, citing affidavits filed in the investigation that the elections board has made public so far that allege Dowless was seen with hundreds of absentee ballots and that he had crews of people going door to door collecting ballots. "One thing we know is that this all goes to the very top of Mark Harris' campaign," McCready said. Dowless' actions in elections have been scrutinized for years, and McCready said he heard rumors last fall of shenanigans Dowless was involved in during the 9th District campaign. "We're responsible for our actions. I'm responsible for what my people do or don't do," he said. "I only see two options here: Either Mark Harris knew what was going on, or he turned a blind eye to fraud and built a culture of corruption in his campaign."

Tuesday News: Keep it public


GOVERNOR'S OFFICE WANTS COMMITTEE INTERVIEWS, NOT PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS: Following criticism for refusing to allow agency employees to be interviewed by private investigators hired by the legislature, Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration is requesting a public committee meeting where agency representatives would answer questions about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline approval process. Cooper chief of staff Kristi Jones wrote to the legislative oversight committee probing the issue last week. “We have provided you the requested documents, answered your questions and appeared before your committees numerous times on this subject, yet you insist that we answer even more questions from private Republican investigators who should be paid for by the Republican Party and not North Carolina taxpayers,” Jones wrote. Her letter was first reported by WRAL reporter Travis Fain on Twitter.

Monday News: Rolling the health care dice


NC SWITCHING MEDICAID TO MANAGED CARE MODEL: North Carolina is shifting most Medicaid programs from traditional fee-for-service coverage to those in which companies or medical networks get flat monthly amounts for each patient covered. Instead of paying doctors and hospitals for every test and procedure, Medicaid would allow these "prepaid health plans" to keep whatever's left over after medical expenses and activities. While keeping patients healthier could boost plan profits, sicker patients could mean losses. The alterations should influence the debate over whether it makes sense at the same time to bring another 300,000 to 500,000 new low- and middle-income enrollees on board through expansion. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and party allies, who made legislative seat gains last November that gives them more negotiating leverage, are making expansion a top priority this year. Legislative Republicans have blocked it for years.


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