It seems certain that one of the contributing factors in the disastrous calculus that led Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to believe he could get away with his murderous and criminal invasion of Ukraine was his perception of weakness and division in the United States.
It was not a completely unreasonable perception to hold.
Like others around the world, Putin was watching carefully on Jan. 6, 2021, as American democracy appeared to teeter for a moment on the apex of the Washington Monument. He’s seen how the COVID-19 pandemic helped deepen the fractures in our already divided nation. He was fully aware of the way the U.S. has disengaged in recent years from its traditional post-World War II European friendships. And you can bet your bottom dollar that he’s also been aware of the way a certain former U.S. president and some of his noisiest sycophants have consistently voiced admiration for his ruthless tactics, while doing everything within their power to undermine the current inhabitant of the White House.[Read more...]
Compromise bill funds local “earmarks” for the first time in several years
WASHINGTON — Democrats and Republicans forged agreement early Wednesday on a spending package that will fund the government for the next eight months, as well as provide billions in emergency funding for COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.
The announcement means Congress should be able to avert a government shutdown when a spending patch expires at midnight on Friday, though an additional patch until next week will have to be passed as well.
The $1.5 trillion government funding section of the bill includes the first round of earmarks in more than a decade, allowing members from both political parties to secure federal dollars for home-state projects. [Read more...]
The veto override of Senate Bill 173, also known as the “Free the Smiles Act,” failed on a 27-22 vote. The Senate needed 29 of the 49 votes present to move the bill to the House. Three-fifths of that chamber is also needed to override a veto.
Every Senate Democrat voted against the veto override, including two who had supported the bill that won bipartisan support in the House and Senate. Sen. Ben Clark, (D-Cumberland) and Sen. Kirk deViere (D-Cumberland), previously voted in favor of the bill. [Read more…]
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied Republican legislative leaders’ request to stop congressional elections using court-drawn maps while they appealed state redistricting decisions.
The Supreme Court’s denial means that North Carolina congressional districts are officially set for the 2022 election. Candidate filing ended on Friday.
The NC Supreme Court ordered the legislature to redraw new districts for state House, state Senate and congressional districts after determining that the first maps legislators created were unconstitutional pro-Republican partisan gerrymanders. [Read more….]
President Joe Biden announced in his State of the Union Address last week the next strategy in combating COVID-19 called “test and treat.”
The plan to be launched later this month would have COVID-19 tests available at pharmacy clinics, community health centers, long-term care facilities and veterans’ health centers. People who test positive and fit eligibility requirements would receive COVID antiviral medications on the spot.
The FDA granted Paxlovid and Molnupiravir emergency use authorization in December. The pills are available by prescription at clinics and pharmacies throughout the state. Paxlovid is for adults and children 12 and older who are high risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19. Molnupiravir is for adults. People with COVID must start taking the pills within five days of symptoms. [Read more…]
Robeson County facility seeks new air permit even as state records detail a long trail of failures as fines
Tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Dozens of violations. Millions of tons of air pollutants.
North Carolina Renewable Power in Robeson County was supposed to be part of the solution for Duke Energy to meet its renewable energy goals. Instead, over the past seven years, the facility, which burns virgin wood and poultry waste, has sputtered, shut down, and restarted, only to repeatedly violate its state air permit, according to state records.
“This facility is a bad actor,” Katie Moore, a citizen advocate who works on issues of air pollution and environmental justice, told state officials at a public hearing for the facility’s proposed permit changes. “It would retroactively authorize illegal emissions and allow them to continue.” [Read more…]
North Carolina has experienced “a perfect storm of challenges” over the past two years of the pandemic.
Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry told members of a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday that rising poverty and increased access to firearms has led to a devastating rise in violence.
“Increases in poverty are closely linked to increases in crime as stress and desperation make people more likely to see crime as their best or only option,” Deberry testified. “At the same time, Americans purchased guns in record numbers — more than 40 million over that last two years, worsening this nation’s gun epidemic.” [Read more…]
The first year North Carolina parents could establish a home school for their children, the state recorded 381 such schools with slightly more than 800 students for the 1985-86 school year.
Fast forward to this school year and the state has 112,614 schools on record, educating an estimated 179,990 children.
“As home schools increased in the state, DNP staff did not,” Dr. Chena Flood, director of the Division of Non-Public (DNP) Education, told members of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government on Tuesday. [Read more…]