Saturday News: No Sam is also an option


STUDENTS INTERRUPT MEETING ON DISPOSITION OF CONFEDERATE STATUE: During Friday's meeting, student protesters briefly interrupted and members of the faculty council stood in solidarity. Their message was straightforward - Silent Sam should not be resurrected on campus. "Our safety means this statue does not belong on campus. We don't want it anywhere on campus," said Angum Check, a senior at UNC. Check said the physical and mental health of students is at stake if the statue stays. "I'm tired of her (Folt) trying to please everyone," said Check. "She can't please everyone. She needs to pick a side and she needs to stand firm in that side that she picks." Students in opposition of Silent Sam have also encouraged teaching assistants to join a strike, in which TAs and instructors have threatened not to grade some assignments and withhold grades. The UNC Board of Governors is expected to review the Silent Sam proposal at its Dec. 14 meeting. It's unclear whether they would have the final word, or whether the North Carolina Historical Commission would have to sign off as well.

WHITE SUPREMACIST WHO KILLED HEATHER HEYER CONVICTED OF 1ST DEGREE MURDER: A man who drove his car into counterprotesters at a 2017 white nationalist rally in Virginia was convicted Friday of first-degree murder, a verdict that local civil rights activists hope will help heal a community still scarred by the violence and the racial tensions it inflamed nationwide. A state jury rejected defense arguments that James Alex Fields Jr. acted in self-defense during a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Jurors also convicted Fields of eight other charges, including aggravated malicious wounding and hit and run. Fields, 21, drove to Virginia from his home in Maumee, Ohio, to support the white nationalists. As a large group of counterprotesters marched through Charlottesville singing and laughing, he stopped his car, backed up, then sped into the crowd, according to testimony from witnesses and video surveillance shown to jurors.

SECOND PUBLIC SCHOOL INVOLUNTARILY TAKEN OVER BY STATE BOARD: North Carolina's statewide school board is taking a second academically low-performing school away from local control. The State Board of Education this week voted that Wayne County school leaders must turn over or shut down Carver Heights Elementary School starting next year. The rural, 3rd- through 5th-grade school could be run by a charter school operator, a university or community college, or a philanthropic organization. Only about 18 percent of the Goldsboro school's students were proficient in skills expected at their grade level, the lowest of the six elementary schools that were under takeover consideration. The state school board picked a nonprofit corporation created last year to take over Southside Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County, the first taken from local control.

HARRIS SAYS HE WILL SUPPORT NEW ELECTION IN NC09 IF SUBSTANTIAL FRAUD IS FOUND "BY EITHER SIDE": “If this investigation finds proof of illegal activity on either side to such a level that it could have changed the outcome of the election then I would wholeheartedly support a new election,” said Harris, in a video statement released by his campaign. He also said he was unaware of any wrongdoing and is cooperating with the ongoing investigation, which he hopes will lead to his victory being certified before Congress starts its new session in January. Harris has not taken questions from the media since the story first erupted last week, when the N.C. Board of Elections refused to certify the results of his race against Democrat Dan McCready. Harris could be seen at his southeast Charlotte home Friday, but a campaign representative said he would not be available for an interview. He said he supports an investigation into voting irregularities that could have benefited “either party in this election or past election cycles.”

COHEN HEADED TO JAIL FOR PAYOFFS TRUMP DIRECTED HIM TO MAKE: Federal prosecutors said on Friday that President Trump directed illegal payments to ward off a potential sex scandal that threatened his chances of winning the White House in 2016, putting the weight of the Justice Department behind accusations previously made by his former lawyer. The lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, had said that as the election neared, Mr. Trump directed payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump. But in a new memo arguing for a prison term for Mr. Cohen, prosecutors in Manhattan said he “acted in coordination and at the direction of” an unnamed individual, clearly referring to Mr. Trump. The prosecutors in New York mounted a scathing attack on Mr. Cohen’s character. They rejected his plea to avoid a prison term, saying that he had “repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends.” They argued that he deserved a “substantial” prison term that, giving him some credit for his cooperation, could amount to just under four years.