Sunday’s spring-like forecast seems like a distant memory as we’re watching temperatures drop this lunch hour and the water cooler talk is more about the next ‘snowpocalypse’ than last night’s Oscars.
First, if you missed it over the weekend, North Carolina once again made the front page of the New York Times. The headline alone – Ash Spill Shows How Watchdog Was Defanged  – paints a very worrisome picture about recent changes within the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Here are two short excerpts from Trip Gabriel’s article:
Current and former state regulators said the watchdog agency, once among the most aggressive in the Southeast, has been transformed under Gov. Pat McCrory into a weak sentry that plays down science, has abandoned its regulatory role and suffers from politicized decision-making.
A second supervisor, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “A lot of us never considered ourselves political creatures. What’s happened here has really blown us out of the water. People speak in hushed tones in the hallway to each other. We go offsite to talk. It’s totally changed the culture of this organization.”
Mr. Skvarla said in an interview that he was “speechless” to hear such a sentiment, adding, “I think we have taken politics out of this agency.”
While on the subject of our environment Mother Jones magazine offers a frightening field guide to common plastics , that will have you thinking about how your food and medicine are packaged.
WUNC reports  on a new study out of Duke University that indicates retaining students means more discipline problems in other students:
The findings come at a time when educators and policymakers are debating a new North Carolina law that could increase the number of older retained students. The “Read to Achieve” program, which went into effect this year, requires all third-grade students to read at grade level or risk being held back.
Matt Ellinwood, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center’s Education and Law project, also discussed some of the flaws with the “Read to Achieve” program over the weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon . You can watch a portion of that radio interview below:
The Huffington Post  reports that MoveOn.org is launching a new ad campaign  this week targeting Republican governors who have rejected Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. Their campaign will begin with billboards popping up in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Virginia.
Think Progress  reports that the Supreme Court will hear today what could be the biggest death penalty case in nearly a decade.
The Hill  has the latest on the push to enroll more Americans in Obamacare before this month’s deadline.
The Washington Post  has the skinny on the latest well-being index, and why West Virginia may be the most miserable state in the country.
On the lighter side even if you missed the Oscars chances are you didn’t miss the Ellen DeGeneres selfie – now the most retweeted tweet of all time , according to Buzzfeed.
And of course, that has lots of folks creating their own celebrity selfies  and sharing those online. (Why yes, that is me on the left, no need to make a big fuss about it. And yes, Kevin Spacey was just as charismatic as Frank Underwood.)
Happy Monday…time to get back to work!