STATE TREASURER SIDES WITH SHERIFFS AGAINST COCKTAILS TO GO: Cooper issued the executive order later Monday, noting that he’d gotten concurrence from the Council of State. But State Treasurer Dale Folwell said he chose not to respond to the Cooper administration’s email. He’s critical of how Cooper has handled the Council of State’s involvement this year, and he wants to discuss proposed executive orders in a meeting — not over email with only a few hours to reply. “These executive orders need to be developed more comprehensively, more transparently, and we have to be able to do that in a forum where we can challenge assumptions,” Folwell said. He argues that the state needs to do more to help restaurants and bars, many of which are likely to go out of business. “It seems that the governor thinks that the ability to order a cocktail to go is going to fix these problems, and the sad fact is that he’s wrong,” Folwell said. Tell that your GOP buddies in the General Assembly, who are sitting on a $4+Billion surplus.
RESTAURANT WORKERS FILE LAWSUITS AGAINST THEIR EMPLOYERS OVER COVID ISSUES: And just this week, amid a flurry of online accusations, employees of Vortex Doughnuts filed retaliation cases against the South Slope shop with the NLRB. At issue are several abrupt staffing cuts made by management of the doughnut shop in the aftermath of two employees testing positive for COVID. Several workers declined not to return to work right away, or at least until they had received two negative tests. Managers there did not reply to Citizen Times questions about the cases, however they did post a public Facebook response addressing — and confirming — worker claims. “On the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 1, we received news that one of our employees tested positive for COVID-19,” Vortex’s post read. “We immediately shut down our shop and sent employees to quarantine and get tested.” On Dec. 9, employees who tested negative and were comfortable were “invited back” to work, the post said. “The employees who initially declined to return to work were not invited back,” it continued. “We have offered references for these staff members and truly wish them the best. We are legally not at liberty to discuss these employees and their termination any further.”
JONES COUNTY HOG LAGOON FAILS, DUMPING A MILLION GALLONS OF PIG SHIT INTO CREEKS AND RIVERS: An investigation has begun into the failure of a hog lagoon which led to the spill of approximately 1 million gallons of untreated animal waste, North Carolina environmental officials said Wednesday. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources said the spill occurred at a farm in Trenton in Jones County. A news release from the department said it was notified on Dec. 21 and immediately conducted an on-site inspection. The department said the spilled animal waste reached Tuckahoe Creek, which is approximately 300 feet from the lagoon and flows into the Trent River. Division staff members performed an on-site inspection and collected water samples for testing and analysis. They will continue to monitor nearby waters for environmental impacts, the news release said.
RV EXPLOSION IN DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE WAS ACT OF DOMESTIC TERRORISM: The chain of events began around 5:30 a.m. local time, when residents on Second Avenue, home to a row of restaurants and honky-tonk night clubs, heard what they thought were rapid-fire gunshots. Some later speculated that the sound of gunfire was an amplified recording designed to awaken them. Then came a bizarre recorded warning from a loudspeaker on the RV, police and residents said. “It was a computerized message of ‘Evacuate now. … This vehicle has a bomb and will explode,’” said Betsy Williams, who lives in a building adjacent to the blast site. Officers went door to door, telling residents to evacuate, even turning around one man who was out walking his dog, Aaron said. Moments later, at about 6:30 a.m., the RV detonated near Second Avenue North and Commerce Street, smashing windows, signs and garage doors and sending a ball of bright orange flames into the sky. The explosion destroyed storefronts, scattered ash and debris through the streets and sent at least three people to the hospital with noncritical injuries, police said. Nashville Police Chief John Drake said police had not identified a suspect or a motive. He said it was not clear whether anyone was inside the vehicle when it detonated.
AMID COVID-RELATED TRAVELS BANS FROM THE UK, BREXIT DEAL IS FINALLY ACHIEVED. OR IS IT? For weary Brexit negotiators on both sides of the English Channel, a Christmas Eve trade agreement sealed 11 months of painstaking deliberations over Britain’s departure from the European Union, encompassing details as arcane as what species of fish could be caught by each side’s boats in British waters. But for many others — among them bankers, traders, truckers, architects and millions of migrants — Christmas was only the beginning, Day 1 of a high-stakes and unpredictable experiment in how to unstitch a tight web of commercial relations across Europe. The deal, far from closing the book on Britain’s tumultuous partnership with Europe, has opened a new one, beginning on its first pages with what analysts say will be the biggest overnight change in modern commercial relations. “We are going to have to learn how to do this as we go,” said Shane Brennan, chief executive of the Cold Chain Federation, a British group representing logistics firms. “Let’s hope it’s for the better in the end, but it will be slow, complex and expensive.” British distributors, spared the calamity of a no-deal separation, were nevertheless scrambling to prepare the first of hundreds of thousands of new export certifications to allow their meat, fish and dairy to be sold to the bloc. British food, once exempt from such burdensome checks, now faces the same inspections as European imports from countries like Chile or Australia. Britain’s services sector — encompassing not only London’s powerful financial industry, but also lawyers, architects, consultants and others — was largely left out of the 1,246-page deal, despite the sector accounting for 80 percent of British economic activity.