Friday News: You will be missed, sir

AFTER A LONG LIFE OF PUBLIC SERVICE, REP. MICKEY MICHAUX ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: A political fixture in Durham and the General Assembly, N.C. Rep. H.M. “Mickey” Michaux, 87, announced Thursday that he will retire from elected office. After King was assassinated, Michaux said Thursday in a speech at the General Assembly, he told himself he’d never go into politics. Now, after winning 22 elections to represent Durham in the General Assembly, Michaux is in his 43rd year in politics. It’ll be his last, he said Thursday, announcing he doesn’t plan to run for re-election. When he first joined the legislature, he was just the third African-American person ever elected. They decided to band together. “We were referred to as smart Negroes. That was to our face. So we decided we need to have our caucus, so we started the first black caucus,” he said. Michaux touched on his accomplishments in advancing civil rights in his speech to lawmakers Thursday. “I want you to be very careful what you do when I’m not here,” he told them.

BERGER'S CLASS SIZE FIX USED TO GRAB $57.8 MILLION PIPELINE MITIGATION FUND: Republican legislative leaders Thursday announced they've reached an agreement on a fix to problems created by capping class sizes in early grades, but they've attached it to provisions Democrats are calling a poison pill. One would divide the funds from a $57.8 million fund linked to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline among school districts in the eight North Carolina counties the natural gas pipeline will traverse. The second deals with the composition of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and is completely unrelated to education funding. Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, which will own and operate the pipeline gave the state $57.8 million for a mitigation fund that, according to the Governor's Office, would be used to lessen any environmental damage caused by the project, advance renewable energy initiatives and promote economic development in the eight counties.

US HOUSE PASSES BUDGET, ENDING GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: The House has narrowly passed a sweeping bipartisan budget accord, ending an hours-long government shutdown and clearing a path for huge spending increases for both the Pentagon and domestic programs. The 240-186 vote sends the $400 billion spending plan to President Donald Trump, who has promised to sign it. Passage of the measure came over the opposition of Democratic leaders who demanded the promise of a vote to protect "Dreamer" immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. A band of tea party Republicans swung against the legislation as well, repelled by its spiraling spending levels. The government shut down at midnight Thursday after Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul blocked plans for a quick Senate vote, blaming his fellow Republicans for being "complicit" in the looming return of trillion-dollar budget deficits.

BOSTON POLICE USED NSA-LIKE SOFTWARE TO TRACK MUSLIMS ON SOCIAL MEDIA: A social media monitoring tool used by the Boston Police Department to identify potential threats swept up the posts of people using the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter and a lawmaker's Facebook update about racial inequality, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. The ACLU says in a report based on documents obtained through a public records request that the police department's use of Geofeedia to mine the internet appears to have had little benefit to public safety while unfairly focusing on groups such as Muslims. Boston police say the ACLU's conclusions are misguided and that the program helped police successfully monitor events that could lead to demonstrations or crowds and threaten security. The now-defunct location-based program allowed officials to set up email alerts for when certain keywords were used on social media.

FEMALE-PHOBIC PENCE SILENTLY SITS NEAR KIM JONG UN'S SISTER AT OLYMPIC CEREMONY: A White House official says U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were seated just feet apart during Friday's Olympic opening ceremony, but they did not interact. Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah says Pence visited with guests at several tables at Friday's reception, "but did not come across the North Korean delegation." Pence rode to the reception with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the two held a private conversation while waiting more than 10 minutes for a photo opportunity with Moon. Earlier, Moon warmly greeted North Korea's 90-year-old nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, as they attended the VIP reception. The North Koreans were in the room at the same time as Pence, an official said. Moon said improved relations between the Koreas may be a step toward resolving the nuclear standoff.



Missed opportunity

What's the damn point in Pence attending the Olympics if he's not going to at least try to interact with the North Koreans? It would take very little effort to walk across the room and stick out your hand, or engage in a little polite conversation with Kim's sister. I have no idea if her nutcase brother even listens to her opinions, but you better believe I would have at least made an effort to break the ice with her.

Pence is worse than useless.