Friday News: Feckless endangerment


REPUBLICANS WANT TO BLOCK NC MUNICIPALITIES FROM BANNING PARADES: “If we’re going to allow parades to protest what people are unhappy about in our country, we ought to allow parades to celebrate what people love about this country,” Daniel said, referring to recent Black Lives Matter protests and marches against police brutality. Sen. Jim Burgin, a Harnett County Republican who presented the new version of House Bill 686, said he thinks the events can be held safely. “Folks, I trust the people of North Carolina,” he said. “These events are outside, people can social distance. We’ve got to get back to our traditions that make this country great.” Raleigh and many other Triangle towns have already canceled Fourth of July festivals and fireworks displays.

NC HOUSE IS PUSHING $3.1 BILLION BOND REFERENDUM FOR ROADS AND SCHOOLS: The House gave preliminary approval Thursday to putting a $3.1 billion bond referendum before voters this November. A final vote is set for Monday night after the initial 113-4 vote in favor. About $1.15 billion would go to the state Department of Transportation for operational expenses like maintenance, as well as projects that are already approved in the Strategic Transportation and Infrastructure Plan. The remaining $1.95 billion would be divided among universities ($600 million), community colleges ($300 million) and local K-12 school districts ($1.05 billion) for construction and repair needs. The formula for local districts would be based on enrollment but would be weighted to favor smaller or more rural counties with less robust tax bases on which to draw. Every district would be guaranteed $5 million. That amount of debt is generating some heartburn among the more conservative members of the House Republican caucus. It’s been only four years since the state’s voters approved the last general-obligation debt, the $2 billion “Connect NC” bond package.

PETER HANS APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN CHOSEN AS NEXT UNC SYSTEM PRESIDENT: North Carolina's community college system president will become the next head of the University of North Carolina's 17-campus system, a UNC governing board member said on Thursday. Peter Hans, who began the community college job just two years ago, will be introduced on Friday as the UNC system president, Board of Governors member Leo Daughtry told The Associated Press. The 24 voting members of the board perform the task of approving the choice of president. A search committee was formed last year to determine a permanent successor to Margaret Spellings, the former U.S. education secretary who left the post in early 2019 midway through her five-year contract. The interim president, Bill Roper, is set to leave the temporary job at the end of this month. Hans didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Thursday. The Board of Governors scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday morning, with its purpose “to elect a president.” A UNC system spokesperson declined to comment.

JUSTICE ROBERTS THUMBS HIS NOSE AT TRUMP WITH DACA DECISION: The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the program protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, a reprieve for nearly 650,000 recipients known as “dreamers.” The 5-to-4 decision, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., stunned President Trump, who said in a tweet that it and a ruling earlier this week that federal law protects LGBTQ workers were “shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives.” Roberts was in the majority in both cases, and Thursday’s ruling showed once again the pivotal role he now plays at the center of the court. His low-key ruling was technical — the administration had not provided proper legal justification, he said, for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented by President Barack Obama eight years ago. It allows qualified enrollees to work, study and remain in the United States on a renewable permit. Trump has often suggested the conservative-leaning Supreme Court would protect him against adverse rulings from lower-court judges. But Roberts has at times joined the court’s liberal members — as happened Thursday — to make clear for the president that his administration does not make the rules.

TRUMP ADMIN SHIFTS FUNDS AWAY FOR COVID 19 LUNG TREATMENTS: When the coronavirus kills, it attacks the lungs, filling them with fluid and robbing the body of oxygen. In chest X-rays, clear lungs turn white, a sign of how dangerously sick patients are. But earlier this month, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, a federal health agency, abruptly notified companies and researchers that it was halting funding for treatments for this severe form of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. The new policy highlights how staunchly the Trump administration has placed its bet on vaccines as the way to return American society and the economy to normal in a presidential election year. BARDA has pledged more than $2.2 billion in deals with five vaccine manufacturers for the coronavirus, compared with about $359 million toward potential Covid-19 treatments. The decision to suspend investment in lung treatments blindsided academic researchers and executives at small biotech companies, who said they spent months pitching their proposals to BARDA, which is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. Vaccines are universally considered the world’s best hope for stopping the virus, but scientists and doctors treating patients hospitalized with Covid-19 caution that there is no guarantee a vaccine will be ready by the end of the year, as President Trump has promised. And no treatment or therapy has been proved to prevent the disease. Most of the patients admitted to the intensive care unit for Covid-19 at Northwell Health in New York, a system of 23 hospitals at the epicenter of the region’s epidemic this spring, have developed severe respiratory distress, said Dr. Mangala Narasimhan, the regional director of critical care medicine at Northwell. “You’re going to need other forms of treatments for a lot of those people, and I feel like that’s where there’s going to be a gaping hole,” she said.