Daily dose

Wednesday News: How about "No."

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DOMINION WANTS TO RUN GAS PIPELINE ALONG AMERICAN TOBACCO TRAIL: “What you’ll have is kind of a skinny canopy along the trail, rather than trees that go back 9 or 10 deep,” Devereux said in an interview. “It’s going to change the character of the trail markedly for a while during construction, and then the long-term change to the canopy will not be a plus.” Devereux learned of the potential use of the trail corridor for the pipeline only last week and posted an item about it on the conservancy’s Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. Dave Connelly, a long-time trail advocate and user in Durham, soon sent an email to several Triangle government officials asking how such a potentially disruptive project could have gotten this far unnoticed. “It’s incredible that neither NCDOT nor the Board of Transportation thought to mention this to people who use the ATT,” Connelly wrote. “If someone wanted to plant a pipeline on the North Carolina Railroad corridor, do you think NCRR would not mention it to Norfolk Southern?”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article242837121.html

Tuesday News: Bad leadership

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GOP COUNTY COMMISSIONER OPENS RESTAURANT FOR DINE-IN CUSTOMERS: Carrol Dean Mitchem, the Republican chairman of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, was charged Monday with violating N.C. Executive Order 138, which bans on-site food consumption during the pandemic. Mitchem is known for taking controversial stands on the board of commissioners, including saying prayers from non-Christian religions are unwelcome at the county’s government meetings, WBTV reported in 2015. His restaurant was one of two cited Monday for violating the executive order. The Rise ‘n Shine Cafe in Asheville was issued a citation for what police called “persistent non-compliance to the public health order,” McClatchy News reported. Police said they received three complaints that the cafe was allowing people to dine inside.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article242833081.html

Monday News: Mistaken trust

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JUDGE TEMPORARILY BLOCKS GOVERNOR'S RESTRICTIONS ON CHURCHES: The temporary order comes after two Baptist churches, a minister and a Christian revival group filing a lawsuit against the Democratic governor Thursday, saying his executive order violates their First Amendment freedom of religion and other constitutional rights, The News & Observer reported. A hearing is scheduled May 29 on whether the order will become permanent. Until that time, the judge’s order prevents Cooper from taking enforcement actions against religious worshipers, but also states they should observe recommendations for social distancing and reduce transmission of the virus when possible. “The court trusts worshipers and their leaders to look after one another and society while exercising their free exercise rights just as they and their fellow citizens (whether religious or not) do when engaged in non-religious activities,” Dever’s order states.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article242788161.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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ACT NOW ON CRITICAL ELECTION NEEDS TO ASSURE FULL VOTING IN NOVEMBER: North Carolina is due $22.6 million in federal funding for election technology, security and COVID-19 safety as well as other voting related needs. But the state must come up with about $4.4 million to match. In one of the legislature’s recently passed COVID-19 response bills, it specifically prevents the state board from using any of its own funds for the match. The legislature needs to either quickly appropriate the matching funds or give the elections board a way to access those federal funds. The additional money is critical. It will help assure our polling places are safe, voters have several ways to cast ballots and as many voters as possible participate in our democracy. It shouldn’t be a matter of partisan bickering or shenanigans. We need to do this quickly so the necessary planning and procedures can be in place. Further, the legislature needs to act to give local boards more flexibility to assign poll workers and set up polling places for appropriate “social distancing.”
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/editorial-act-now-on-critical-election-needs-to-assure-full-voting-...

Saturday News: Jim Corona

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NC'S AFRICAN-AMERICAN POPULATION ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE IN PANDEMIC: Where the state does know race and ethnicity, DHHS reports that 33% of confirmed cases are among African Americans and 29% are among Hispanics. Of N.C. deaths, 36% have been among African Americans, and 5% among Hispanics. According to U.S. Census estimates for July 2019, blacks make up 22% of the state’s population. Hispanics account for less than 10%. The incidence of COVID-19 in North Carolina tracks with national trends. A report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April found that blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented among hospitalizations and deaths resulting from the new coronavirus. National numbers from May show that where race and ethnicity are known, black Americans are 2.6 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than white Americans.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article242764381.html

Friday News: Asked and answered

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REPUBLICAN CALLS TO REOPEN IGNORE THE DEATH TOLL IN GEORGIA: Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who’s running for governor against Cooper this year, also called on Cooper earlier this week to explain why North Carolina isn’t reopening as quickly as some neighboring states. Georgia, which has a Republican governor, was one of the last states to issue a stay-at-home order. It was also one of the first to start reopening. NPR reported on Tuesday that the federal government has identified that as a worry, since intensive care units in Georgia are already nearly 80% full and reopening could create a new spike in cases. Despite both states having roughly the same population, Georgia has reported 1,523 coronavirus deaths as of Thursday — more than double the 615 deaths in North Carolina.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article242733771.html

Thursday News: Busted

FBI EXECUTES SEARCH WARRANT ON RICHARD BURR, CONFISCATES PHONE: U.S. Sen. Richard Burr turned his cell phone over Wednesday night to FBI agents amid an investigation into stock sales he made in February, The Los Angeles Times reported. Burr, a North Carolina Republican and the chairman of the Senate’s intelligence committee, was served a search warrant at his Washington, D.C.-area residence, according to the LA Times, which cited a law enforcement official. Burr’s office declined to comment on the report when contacted by McClatchy late Wednesday night. Citing the law enforcement official, The LA Times reported that the Justice Department is “examining Burr’s communications with his broker.” Burr sold up to $1.7 million in stocks in early and mid-February, according to a Senate disclosure that he filed.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article242724611.html

Wednesday News: Star chamber

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SENATE REPUBLICANS HELD COVID MEETINGS IN PRIVATE: Edwards said there weren’t formal meetings of Republicans. Rep. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, said there were numerous conference calls and then, when the Senate returned to Raleigh, in-person private meetings. The public wasn’t privy to the discussions. And that is what Van Duyn said frustrated her. She said the lack of public input left her constituents without a seat at the table, because she didn’t know who she needed to include in her discussions and they did not know to call her for help. “That is enormously frustrating, not to mention it would be illegal for my county or my city to do business in that way,” Van Duyn said. Sen. Erica Smith, D-Northampton, agreed the public should be involved. “I definitely prefer public input. I prefer transparency and people need to know we’re working hard on their behalf,” she said.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article242678306.html

Tuesday News: Pay the piper

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BOARD OF ELECTIONS NEEDS MONEY FOR NOVEMBER ELECTION: Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell has sent three letters to the legislature asking for changes to state voting laws and roughly $2 million in funding to match federal money made available by the CARES Act. Brinson Bell said the $11 million in federal money is needed to help counties pay for what elections officials expect will be a dramatic increase in absentee-by-mail voting and equipment to run in-person voting safely. Despite the urgent need for funding — the 2020 general election is less than six months away — North Carolina lawmakers have yet to substantively address the requests. “We hope that they will address this in a timely fashion,” Brinson Bell said. “By June 15, we’re going to be in a very tight spot to be able to have the supplies and the materials.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article242647991.html

Monday News: Just under 15,000

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NC IS NOW TESTING 5,000-7,000 FOR COVID 19 EACH DAY: At least 14,931 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 564 have died as of Monday morning, according to state and county health departments. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 404 new cases of the virus on Sunday, down from 492 reported the day before. At least 442 North Carolinians were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, a drop from the 513 reported Saturday. The state was averaging 506 daily hospitalizations over the last seven days on Sunday. Only one of North Carolina’s 100 counties has not reported a case of the virus. At least one death has been reported in 72 counties. Overall, North Carolina had completed 192,135 tests as of Sunday afternoon, 8% of which have come back positive.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article242637351.html

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