WHITE WOMAN DRIVES VEHICLE INTO ELIZABETH CITY PROTESTERS, INJURING TWO: A Greenville woman could face hate crime charges after she struck two Black women with her vehicle as they were protesting the April killing of Andrew Brown Jr. by sheriff’s deputies, according to Elizabeth City Police. The two pedestrians were treated for “non life-threatening injuries” at an area hospital and later released, police said. Charges against 41-year-old Lisa Michelle O’Quinn, who is white, include “assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill by the use of a motor vehicle,” careless and reckless driving and unsafe movement, police said. She remained in jail Tuesday under $40,000 bond. The department said it is investigating “potential aggravating factors” that could result in hate crime charges being filed.
NC DHHS OFFERING CASH CARDS FOR PEOPLE TO GET VACCINATED: The state Department of Health and Human Services announced a pilot program starting Wednesday at certain vaccine sites in Mecklenburg, Guilford, Rowan and Rockingham counties. Adults who get their first vaccination dose at the sites or drive someone for that first-dose appointment will receive $25 cash cards, DHHS said in a new release. The “Summer Cash Cards” will be available through June 8 while supplies last. The card program is being paid for with federal funds to support vaccine access, DHHS spokeswoman Catie Armstrong said, while the State Employees Credit Union is help provide the actual cards for the pilot. The incentive is another effort by DHHS to boost vaccination rates entering the summer. The North Carolina Zoo offered last week a free ticket for those that received their first vaccination at a clinic on the zoo property. A similar offer will occur June 10-12.
UNC FACULTY DEMANDS TRUSTEES RECONSIDER TENURE FOR HANNAH-JONES: “The Faculty Executive Committee strongly urges the Board of Trustees to uphold the long tradition of respect for recommendations for faculty bodies in hiring and tenure cases, and to take up the matter of tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones immediately, and to explain, to the fullest extent possible without violating the law, the reasons for its decision,” the statement said. “These steps must be undertaken to address a breach of trust in a process that is essential to our standing as a leading public research university.” The controversy over Hannah-Jones’s lack of tenure swelled into a national story last week, as outraged faculty, students and professional journalists have defended Hannah-Jones and criticized the Board of Trustees. Some have pointed to politics, race and gender as reasons why Hannah-Jones’ didn’t get tenure, citing her work on The 1619 Project, which explores the legacy and history of the enslavement of Black people in America.
DESANTIS SIGNS FLORIDA LAW BLOCKING SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES FROM BANNING CANDIDATES (LIKE TRUMP): Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday that aims to punish social media companies for their moderation decisions, a move that Silicon Valley immediately criticized and likely sets the stage for potential legal challenges. The legislation would bar Internet companies from suspending political candidates in the run-up to elections. It also would also make it easier for the Florida state attorney general and individuals to bring lawsuits when they think the tech companies have acted unfairly. Legal experts and tech industry trade groups immediately raised concerns about the constitutionality of the law and warned that it gives the government too much power over online speech. DeSantis signed the bill at an event at Florida International University in Miami, where he spoke from a lectern with the sign that said “Stop Big Tech Censorship.” DeSantis was flanked by other Florida Republicans, as well as James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, a non-profit organization known for using undercover tactics to expose what it says is liberal bias in the mainstream news media. Twitter earlier this year banned O’Keefe’s account, and he has sued the company for defamation. The Texas Senate has approved legislation similar to Florida’s that would prevent large tech companies from blocking or discriminating against a user based on their viewpoint or their location within Texas. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) has expressed support for that bill. North Carolina and Louisiana state lawmakers have introduced similar bills.
TOKYO OLYMPICS WILL HAPPEN, BUT YOU WON''T BE ABLE TO GO THERE: The State Department on Monday warned Americans against traveling to Japan as the country experiences an increase in coronavirus cases less than two months before the start of the Tokyo Olympics. The move has little practical effect, as Japan’s borders have been closed to most nonresident foreigners since the early months of the pandemic. But the warning is another blow for the Olympics, which are facing stiff opposition among the Japanese public over concerns that they could become a superspreader event as athletes and their entourages pour in from around the world. The Japanese authorities have insisted that they can carry off the Olympics safely. They have made clear that they intend to proceed with the Games regardless of public discontent and a state of emergency currently in place in much of the country. Japanese officials told the local news media that they viewed the American warning as separate from any considerations for the Games. The State Department declaration is unlikely to affect the United States’ decision to send its athletes to the Olympics. Presumably, most if not all have been vaccinated, although the Games’ organizers are not requiring participants to be inoculated. Starting in late April, large parts of the country entered a state of emergency as more contagious variants of the virus drove a rapid increase in case numbers, particularly in major cities. Osaka, part of Japan’s second-largest metropolitan area, is struggling to deal with the surge, which has put pressure on its health care system. Less than 5 percent of residents have received a first shot of a coronavirus vaccine, putting Japan last among major developed nations in its vaccination campaign.