NC'S BEACHES CONTAMINATED BY SEWER RUNOFF: More than 100 North Carolina beaches and waterways were potentially unsafe for swimming at least one day last year because they were contaminated with bacteria that makes people sick. A report by Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center released Monday said 127 of 213 areas in the state had levels of fecal contamination that made swimming unsafe on at least one day in 2018. Fecal contamination comes from runoff, sewer overflows and leaks, and industrial farms, the report said. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality tests water at 204 coastal beaches weekly or every other week between April and September, twice a month in October, and monthly from November through March, and posts advisories on its website. Four of the top 10 sites in North Carolina with potentially unsafe swimming days were in Beaufort County. A Pamlico Sound access point in Belhaven had 11 potentially unsafe days, the most recorded in the state, according to the report.
COOPER PUSHES FOR GUN SAFETY BILLS TO PASS OUT OF LEGISLATURE: "The time for condolences alone has long passed, and now it is time for action," Cooper said in a statement. "The General Assembly should move quickly to debate the details of these bills so that we can end up with legislation to keep deadly weapons out of the wrong hands. I am also directing my administration to ensure we are doing what’s needed to try to prevent these tragic events." House Bill 86, dubbed the Gun Violence Protection Act, was filed in February and includes provisions that would require a permit for all guns purchased in the state, not just pistols, and set a three-day waiting period for purchases. It also would set a minimum age of 21 to buy an assault rifle, ban high-capacity magazines and require owners of guns that are lost or stolen to report the loss or theft to police. House Bill 454 was filed in March and would create a so-called "red flag law" in North Carolina, which would allow a judge to temporarily take away someone's guns if they're found to be an imminent danger to themselves or others. The person would also be banned from buying or borrowing other guns as long as the order is in effect.
ONLY FOUR HOSPITALS HAVE SIGNED ON TO FOLWELL'S FOLLY: The second sign-up deadline for the controversial State Health Plan reimbursement contract came and went Monday with just one hospital agreeing to join during the 10-day period. Only four out of 126 hospitals have signed the Clear Pricing Project contract backed by the SHP and state Treasurer Dale Folwell. The initial sign-up period ended July 1. CaroMont Health of Gastonia signed on July 22. Of 61,000 providers statewide, 27,000 have signed up. Hospitals and medical providers that do not sign the contract could become out-of-network for more than 727,000 SHP participants starting Jan. 1. The plan is North Carolina’s largest purchaser of medical and pharmaceutical services at $3.2 billion in 2017.Cone Health said July 1 it was rejecting the contract. Novant Health Inc. said it continues to review the contract. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said it will not discuss its plans.
GANNET AND GATEHOUSE MERGER COULD SAVE (BUT WILL LIKELY DESTROY) LOCAL NEWSPAPERS: America’s two largest newspaper publishers will merge in an effort to combat declining circulation and plunging advertising revenue, but will still face pressure to cut costs at hundreds of already cash-strapped publications around the country. The $1.4 billion purchase of McLean-based Gannett by GateHouse Media, based in Pittsford, N.Y., will create a conglomerate that will own more than 250 daily newspapers and hundreds of weekly and community papers. The new company will retain the Gannett name and will have publications in 47 states, reaching more than 145 million unique visitors each month. Executives from both companies extolled the deal in a news release as an opportunity to slash up to $300 million in annual overhead costs within 24 months while “continuing to invest in newsrooms” — creating journalism they hope can attract more digital subscribers and advertisers at a time when America employs thousands of fewer journalists than it did a decade ago.
TRUMP'S FACEBOOK CAMPAIGN ADS USED THE WORD "INVASION" OVER 2,000 TIMES: President Trump’s re-election campaign has harnessed Facebook advertising to push the idea of an “invasion” at the southern border, amplifying the fear-inducing language about immigrants that he has also voiced at campaign rallies and on Twitter. Since January, Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign has posted more than 2,000 ads on Facebook that include the word “invasion” — part of a barrage of advertising focused on immigration, a dominant theme of his re-election messaging. A review of Mr. Trump’s tweets also found repeated references to an “invasion,” while his 2016 campaign advertising heavily featured dark warnings about immigrants breaching America’s borders. Mr. Trump’s language on immigration — particularly his use of the word “invasion” — is under scrutiny after the mass shooting in El Paso on Saturday. The suspect in that shooting, which left 22 people dead, appeared to be the author of a manifesto declaring that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”