Daily dose

Tuesday News: Another one bites the dust

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TRUMP FIRES SECRETARY OF STATE REX TILLERSON: President Donald Trump ousted Rex Tillerson as secretary of state Tuesday, making a surprise Twitter announcement that he's naming CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace him. "Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State," Trump tweeted. "He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!" A White House official said Trump wanted to have a new team in place ahead of upcoming talks with North Korea and various trade talks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.
http://www.wral.com/tillerson-out-at-state-to-be-replaced-by-cia-chief-pompeo/17413057/

Monday News: Partly cloudy

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AS SUNSHINE WEEK BEGINS, SOME LOCAL BOARDS FAIL THE GRADE: To test how government boards handle these accounts of closed meetings, 10 news organizations simultaneously submitted requests in early January for a year’s worth of minutes from closed sessions at nearly 50 public bodies on the local, state and county level. The requests went to 10 local and state school boards, including one school board that refused outright to release any records. After more than two months, about a dozen boards had yet to turn over any minutes from closed sessions. Others provided accounts of only some of their 2017 meetings, or versions that were heavily redacted. In many cases, Jones said, what ends up being redacted is ultimately a judgment call. But he said the shorter the account of the meeting, the more doubt there is about whether public boards are keeping with the spirit of the law.
http://www.wral.com/months-after-closed-meetings-details-often-remain-off-limits/17397175/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS TO GIVE GOP UPPER HAND ONLY GAIN ELECTION CONFUSION: The continuing efforts by the Republican leadership to push a heavy thumb on the elections process -- through significant changes in the way the state Board of Elections was composed -- were rushed into law. There was no investigation as to the need for the changes or how they’d make the elections process work better for voters or candidates. The only justifications were it would enshrine Republican Party domination of the election process and they had the votes to do it. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has rightly challenged the law. Even setting aside any legitimate questions as to the very need for the changes, there are significant questions as to whether the legislature acted within its authority and if the laws are constitutional. The state’s courts are the appropriate forum to address these very real issues.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-legislative-efforts-to-give-gop-an-upper-hand-only-gain-election-confu...

Saturday News: False equivalencies

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CONFEDERATE STATUE SUPPORTERS SHOW RACISM WITH DEMAND TO REMOVE MLK MONUMENTS: If the state moves Confederate statues to a Civil War battlefield, Martin Luther King statues should be removed too, some members of the public told the state committee considering the fate of the monuments. "I just feel like they're trying to wipe out all white history," Roger Dale Williams of Graham said in an interview. "If the Confederate statues have to be removed because they offend some people, the King ones should be as well because they offend some of us." James Leloudis, a history professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, said equating King and Confederate statues ignores "fundamental moral distinctions." The Confederacy was built on the rejection of the founding principle that "all men are created equal," Leloudis said, while "King, by comparison, called the nation back to its core defining democratic values."
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article204153939.html

Friday News: Not done yet

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JUDGE REFUSES TO RELEASE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION FROM LEANDRO LAWSUIT: A judge has refused to drop the State Board of Education from a long-running public school lawsuit because he says hundreds of thousands of North Carolina students still aren't getting their constitutional right to a sound basic education. In an order released Tuesday, Superior Judge David Lee wrote that the state board failed to present convincing evidence that North Carolina is moving closer to providing students with their fundamental rights guaranteed in the state constitution. The ruling was hailed by Melanie Black Dubis, partner with Parker Poe, the lead counsel for the school districts suing the state and the state board. "It confirms that, notwithstanding changes and State Board initiatives over the years, there remains an ongoing constitutional violation because all children are not being provided the opportunity to achieve a sound basic education," Dubis said in an email message.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article204118229.html

Thursday News: Power play

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DUKE ENERGY "GRID UPGRADE" SCHEME WOULD SEE RATES CLIMB EVERY YEAR: A $13 billion electric grid upgrade would boost Duke Energy electric rates in North Carolina well beyond the 16.7 percent base rate increase the company asked state regulators to approve last year. Duke's North Carolina president testified Wednesday that this additional rider would boost rates another 1.5 percent every year, give or take, for 10 years. That adds up to an additional 16 percent increase to pay for the grid, and since businesses pay a lower rate than residential customers, residential customers would see actually impacts up to 25 percent by the end of the decade. And that's after factoring in expected savings Duke has proposed to pass along to customers from a recent cut in the federal corporate tax rate.
http://www.wral.com/-600-million-duke-energy-request-just-the-beginning-in-ongoing-rate-case/17399761/

Wednesday News: Duck and cover

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GUN DEATHS IN NORTH CAROLINA RISE ABRUPTLY IN 2016: North Carolina has reached a grim milestone: More people died from guns in 2016 than any of the previous 35 years, new federal data shows. In 2016, more than 1,400 people died from guns in North Carolina, according to the most recent data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The firearm death toll rose by 120 that year. Experts are not yet sure why the numbers are rising. But a jump in firearm-related homicides appears to have driven the increase. Homicides involving guns climbed to 558 in 2016 – a 27 percent increase over the previous year. Gun control advocates – including Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence – blame the state’s laws. In its scorecard of state gun laws, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives North Carolina a D-. “It’s incredibly troublesome, saddening and frustrating,” Ceartas says of the rising gun toll in North Carolina. “Because we know there are gun laws out there that have been proven to save lives … We do know it’s a public health crisis and it needs to be handled as one.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article203713144.html

Tuesday News: Wetwork

FORMER RUSSIAN SPY AND HIS DAUGHTER FALL "MYSTERIOUSLY ILL" IN ENGLAND: British counter-terror specialists are supporting police in Salisbury after a former Russian spy fell critically ill after exposure to an "unknown substance." Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley told the BBC that the case is unusual and that it is critical to determine what happened as soon as possible. The incident involving Sergei Skripal, 66, immediately drew parallels to the death of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with radioactive polonium 11 years ago in London. The Wiltshire Police force says "a small number" of emergency services staff were assessed after Sergei Skripal and a woman, believed to be his daughter, were found collapsed in the city of Salisbury on Sunday. One of them remains in hospital.
http://www.wral.com/the-latest-uk-counter-terror-specialists-supporting-police/17395989/

Monday News: Dream or nightmare?

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FATE OF DACA RECIPIENTS UNCERTAIN AS COURT-BLOCKED DEADLINE ARRIVES: Cervantes Garcia visited a federal immigration office to renew his DACA status Sept. 4. That same month, President Donald Trump moved to rescind DACA, giving Congress a March 5 deadline to come up with replacement legislation. Two federal judges ruled against rescinding DACA and the Supreme Court declined to review the lower courts’ rulings, however, putting the president’s order on hold. With Congress unlikely to pass a new immigration bill by Monday, the future of Dreamers like Cervantes Garcia is unclear again. The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates 915 young unauthorized immigrants across the country would have lost their DACA permits each day beginning Tuesday had the deadline held.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/durham-county/article203196534.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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BANNING ASSAULT WEAPONS--SIMPLE QUESTIONS AND SIMPLER ANSWERS: We have two questions for the North Carolina Congressional delegation. The questions are simple. The answers are simpler: Do you support a ban on military-style assault weapons such as the AR-15? Is there anyone, aside from members of the military service and law enforcement, who need to possess military assault weapons? Please don’t give use a Second Amendment answer. WE SUPPORT the Second Amendment – all of it. But the Second Amendment doesn’t provide an unlimited right to all weapons. Sensible limits protect everybody. Where is that sensible limit? We think a sensible limit has been passed and it is time to renew the assault weapons ban. Just where do our members of Congress stand?
http://www.wral.com/editorial-banning-assault-weapons-simple-questions-and-simpler-answers/17378394/

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