UNC FACULTY MEMBERS SPEAK OUT ON HANNAH-JONES BEING DENIED TENURE: “Our faculty colleagues in UNC are troubled and tormented that conservative ire has forced the UNC Board of Trustees to back down from offering a tenured position to an acclaimed journalist like Nikole Hannah-Jones,” Aikat said. About three dozen journalism and media faculty, including Aikat, released a statement Wednesday saying they are stunned that Hannah-Jones wasn’t awarded tenure and demanded explanations from the university’s leadership. “The failure to offer Hannah-Jones tenure with her appointment as a Knight chair unfairly moves the goalposts and violates long-standing norms and established processes relating to tenure and promotion at UNC-Chapel Hill,” they wrote. “The national politicization of universities, journalism, and the social sciences undermines the integrity of and academic freedom within the whole University of North Carolina system,” they wrote.
BILL WOULD ALLOW SOME MUNICIPALITIES TO DELAY ELECTION UNTIL SPRING 2022: Senate Bill 722 rolled out Wednesday. It acknowledges the delay in once-a-decade census data that cities and others need to draw new election districts based on the latest population counts. Since that data isn't expected in full until September, and municipal elections are currently scheduled for September, October and November, depending on whether a city holds partisan primary elections, many localities won't be able to get their new districts done in time. The bill lets them put elections off until spring 2022. Current elected officials would have their terms extended. Some municipalities won't need to change anything, because they elect all officials citywide or because their districts are based on geography, not population. But for cities that do need changes, if they can't get the redraw done before the third business day before filing opens in the 2021 elections, they'd be able to delay municipal elections to 2022.
TILLIS AND WALKER ARE PUBLICLY FEUDING, AND IT IS DELICIOUS: Tillis has openly and repeatedly talked down Walker’s campaign, while praising the race’s other top GOP contenders — former Gov. Pat McCrory and current U.S. Rep. Ted Budd. “Maybe this is just payback for President Trump and I meeting a couple times in the Oval Office to discuss (Tillis’s) approach to representing the people as a senator,” Walker said Wednesday in an interview. “It seems to me that it comes from a very personal position rather than one that is politically driven.” Tillis told CNN in late April that he had “no support for Mark Walker” and questioned his “body of work.” Tuesday, he told an NBC reporter that he wanted to make sure she was aware he left Walker off his list of viable candidates. Later in the day, Tillis critiqued Walker’s fundraising — and praised McCrory and Budd. Walker, who declared for the race in December, raised $208,614 in the first three months of 2020. Walker fired back at Tillis, calling him a “swamp sellout” and highlighting what he called flip-flops on supporting construction of a wall on the southern border and backing Trump. “That’s his reputation now in North Carolina,” Walker said.
TEXAS GOVERNOR SIGNS "HEARTBEAT" LAW, A DE FACTO BAN ON ABORTIONS IN THE STATE: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law on Wednesday one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion measures, banning the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy and thrusting the state into the advancing national debate over reproductive rights. The legislation, also known as the “heartbeat law,” amounts to an outright ban on abortion, as many women are not aware they are pregnant at the six-week mark. It also would allow any private citizen to sue doctors or abortion clinic employees who would perform or help arrange for the procedure. The Texas law arrives at a potentially pivotal moment in the long fight over abortion rights. This week the Supreme Court announced it would consider a case from Mississippi that could undermine Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. The bill in Texas also comes two weeks before the end of one of the most staunchly conservative biennial legislative sessions in recent state history. Beyond abortion, Texas lawmakers have taken a very hard-right approach to a number of major issues and culture war subjects, including voting, gun ownership, policing and L.G.B.T.Q. rights. The legislation drew support from anti-abortion groups, who broke into applause in Mr. Abbott’s office, and condemnation from abortion rights activists, who are gearing up to challenge it in the courts. According to a recent survey of Texans by the University of Texas and The Texas Tribune, about 40 percent of respondents identified themselves as “pro-life” and 41 percent as “pro-choice.” A number of abortion clinics in the state closed after a 2013 law set new standards for Texas facilities that performed abortions, including minimum sizes for rooms and admission privileges at nearby hospitals for doctors. That law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016, and since then, several states have passed a range of measures that have been blocked by federal courts.
BIDEN CALLS ON ISRAEL TO DE-ESCALATE ATTACKS ON GAZA: President Biden's unusually blunt demand Wednesday that Israel de-escalate its military attack on Gaza is creating a rare rift between the two countries and dismaying some of Israel's supporters in the United States, while heartening Democrats who have increasingly pushed for a tougher U.S. stance toward Israel. Biden for days had hesitated to publicly confront Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his demand for “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire” shook up the worlds of politics and diplomacy. It was the clearest evidence yet of a rapidly changing political dynamic, at least among Democrats, that is far less accepting of actions Israel says it is taking in self-defense. The United States and Israel have differed before, often on the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But a posture of unshakable solidarity has been far more common in the history of the two countries, and the United States holds powerful leverage as the Jewish state’s most important ally and chief diplomatic defender on the world stage. The three-sentence account of the Biden-Netanyahu call released by the White House on Wednesday omitted the usual language about Israel’s right to defend itself. After noting a “detailed discussion” between the leaders, the statement said, “The President conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire.” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), another critic of the Biden strategy in recent days, welcomed the statement more explicitly. “It is encouraging that President Biden is beginning to demand an end to the violence,” said Khanna, who had previously called on Biden to give Netanyahu a deadline for ending the military assault on the Gaza Strip.