NC'S POSITIVE TEST RATE FOR CORONAVIRUS DOWN TO 4.2%: At least 872,176 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 11,502 have died since last March, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,027 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, down from 2,093 new cases reported the day before. At least 1,179 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Saturday, down from 1,226 reported the day before. As of Thursday, the latest day for which data are available, 4.2% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. More than 1 million people in North Carolina have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine as of Thursday. A total of 2.7 million doses have been administered statewide.
ANTI-ABORTION NUT-JOB ACCIDENTALLY SHOOTS HIMSELF IN FRONT OF RALEIGH ABORTION CLINIC: Raleigh Police say the shooting occurred Saturday around 9 a.m. outside A Woman's Choice of Raleigh. Police say the man fired his weapon accidentally, and he was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. He was charged with possession of a firearm at a protest. Police did not release his name. The clinic issued a news release criticizing police response to the shooting as insufficient. “We have been asking for RPD’s support for years and they’ve been dismissive of the harassment, intimidation, threats, and acts of violence against our staff, volunteers, and patients,” the clinic said in its statement. The clinic called the criminal charge “a slap on the wrist.” The 1st Amendment is not a homicide pact.
NC RANKED #2 IN REMOVING CONFEDERATE ICONOGRAPHY: The report, titled Whose Heritage, was conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that tracks the nationwide activity of hate groups. According to the report, North Carolina removed 24 Confederate-related iconographies, while Virginia removed 71. The Whose Heritage report comes weeks after the organization released a report detailing the headquarters of hate groups throughout the country. Released on March 1, the Whose Heritage report serves as a more comprehensive list of Confederate iconographies than were released in years past. This is according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks, who said the 2015 murders of 9 parishioners by gunman Dylan Roof convinced them to track and compile a sort of census of prominently displayed hate symbols. Though the SPLC released a census of Confederate iconography in 2016, the most recent report is the result of individuals and groups informing the organization of monuments and various symbols they previously didn't know of in the initial count. The study's definition of Confederate iconography goes beyond monuments, though monuments make up a significant chunk of the census.
BIDEN WORKS TO UNDO BETSY DEVOS' RULES THAT SHIELDED CAMPUS RAPISTS: President Biden is directing the Education Department to review a controversial regulation governing how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault, with an eye toward unraveling a new system put into place by former education secretary Betsy DeVos. The DeVos regulation released last May spells out due process rights for those accused of harassment or assault, and the former secretary saw it as one of her most significant achievements. But it came under sharp attack from Democrats, women’s groups and others, and as a candidate Biden signaled he would replace it. It’s not clear, though, how he will go about it. Unraveling a regulation that is already in place may require a second complex rulemaking process. The DeVos system mandated a judicial-like process in which the accused has the right to a live hearing and to cross-examine accusers, providing what supporters see as much-needed due process protections. Opponents argued it would allow assailants and schools to escape responsibility and discourage victims from coming forward. On Monday, Biden also planned to sign a second executive order establishing the White House Gender Policy Council, officials said. The council, with a dedicated staff of four, is meant to span the administration, reviewing domestic and foreign policy and programs with an eye toward “full participation of all people,” regardless of gender, an administration official said.
JURY SELECTION BEGINS TODAY IN GEORGE FLOYD MURDER TRIAL: The trial follows months of protests by those who want the criminal justice system to hold the police accountable for violence, punctuated by sharp disappointments like a lack of indictments for officers in the deaths of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., and Daniel Prude in Rochester, N.Y. Prosecutors will probably show the video in court as much as the judge will allow, to argue that Mr. Chauvin’s use of force violated police department policy and that he committed murder by keeping his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck even after Mr. Floyd went silent. The defense will attempt to portray what many view as a simple set of facts captured on video as something more complicated, probably by arguing that Mr. Floyd’s drug use and underlying health conditions were the real cause of his death. “I think it’s going to be extremely difficult to pick a jury,” said Susan Gaertner, the former top prosecutor in nearby St. Paul who is now in private practice. “There have been few incidents in our state that have had as much impact on the community. It’s hard to imagine finding a juror who is enough of a blank slate to really give both sides a fair hearing.” It is expected to take three weeks just to seat a jury of 12 members and up to four alternates. Lawyers for both sides may have already begun vetting jury-pool members, checking their social media posts. They will have read the returned questionnaires, which are not publicly available, and will use them as a starting point for questions intended to ferret out anything that is “proxy for political bias,” down to their bumper stickers, said Ted Sampsell-Jones, a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minn. The questions will help the lawyers pinpoint ideological leanings and flesh out fuller portraits of each prospective juror. The defense will be looking for candidates who are politically conservative and favorably disposed toward law enforcement, while the prosecution may prefer young, highly educated people with liberal leanings.