STATE FIRE MARSHAL BLAMES FIREMEN FOR HIM NOT WEARING MASK: Harnett County removed a handful of pictures from its official Facebook page this week after a cavalcade of comments criticizing officials who weren't wearing masks. The post showed state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey visiting the Coats Grove Fire and Rescue station. A number of others, including state Sen. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, posed for a photo outside, in front of a fire truck. The post also included images from an indoor meeting. Causey and others were standing apart from each other, but they weren't wearing masks. Causey, who is also the state fire marshal, said he tends to follow the firefighters' lead on such visits. "Most of these firefighters are not wearing masks just around the fire station," he said. "I stand with the firefighters, so whatever they say."
NEW REPORT REVEALS RACIST UNDERPINNINGS OF NC'S EUGENICS PROGRAM: For more than four decades North Carolina’s statewide eugenics program forcibly sterilized almost 7,600 people — many of whom were Black. That wasn’t a coincidence, according to a new academic paper. Duke University professor William A. Darity Jr. co-authored a report published in the American Review of Political Economy that correlates 10 years of forced sterilizations in counties across the state with the number of unemployed Black residents, finding the program was all but designed to “breed (them) out,” according to a university news release. North Carolina’s eugenics program was one of many in the U.S. targeting people with illnesses or disabilities living in state institutions, but it was later touted “as one of several solutions to poverty and illegitimacy,” the foundation says. That meant sterilization petitions weren’t just submitted by hospitals but also by local welfare officials and county boards of commissioners, according to Darity’s paper. “As such, the scope of North Carolina’s eugenic sterilization law extended directly to recipients of public welfare,” the paper states.
DURHAM CITY COUNCIL WILL TACKLE GUN VIOLENCE IN MEETING TODAY: Tyvien McLean, 12, died Monday after being shot in the head by a stray bullet at an apartment complex in Durham. Just the day before, a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old were hurt in a drive-by shooting. Durham Mayor Steve Schewel called it "a terrible night, a tragic night" and said he was outraged by the circumstances of the two shootings. It's not the first time Durham leaders have initiated such a discussion. In October and November, leaders met to discuss violence and crime after a "rough 10 days" in the city when a string of shootings killed two people and left several others wounded. "None of us, none of us, should tolerate any shootings in Durham," Schewel said. Also on Thursday, Durham City Council will decide whether to make Juneteenth an official holiday for city employees. Earlier this month, Wake County became the first county in North Carolina to formally recognize June 19, the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people were freed after the Civil War. (Greensboro just made Juneteenth a paid holiday for city workers)
ACLU FILES LAWSUIT OVER TRUMP'S STORMTROOPERS ATTACKING MEDICS IN PORTLAND: The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service and the city of Portland on Wednesday, accusing the law enforcement agencies of shooting volunteer street medics with rubber bullets, tear-gassing them, beating them with batons and firing stun grenades as the medics attempted to care for injured demonstrators. Civil rights lawyers with the ACLU of Oregon will ask a judge to issue an injunction against local and federal law enforcement agencies to prevent officers from attacking medics as protests continue. Lawyers described the attacks as violations of the medics’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. The lawsuit is the latest legal battle to come out of ongoing unrest in the streets of Portland, where federal agents continue to square off with protesters outside the federal courthouse. City and state officials across the country are preparing for similar legal battles as President Trump plans to deploy federal agents to other cities, starting with Chicago and Albuquerque. “It’s pretty clear that Donald Trump is not interested in law and order, and he’s not sending his agents in to protect the people, but to sow division,” said ACLU spokesman Abdullah Hasan. The surge in federal forces “is meant to send a message, and the ACLU is sending one right back.”
REPUBLICANS CAN'T AGREE ON MAJOR PORTIONS OF THEIR OWN COVID 19 RELIEF PACKAGE: Conservatives are apoplectic about its $1 trillion cost. Embattled mainstream Republicans are desperate to act quickly and aggressively to show voters they are doing something about the pandemic and resulting recession. And President Trump keeps insisting on proposals, like a costly payroll tax cut, that will do nothing to help tens of millions of jobless Americans and that even members of his own party do not support. The debate over the next round of coronavirus relief has exposed deep divisions among Republicans over spending and policy, leaving the fate of a huge economic rescue package in limbo as the virus surges around the country and posing an election-year dilemma for a party already facing a grim political landscape. After three marathon days of talks, Senate Republican leaders and White House officials expressed confidence on Wednesday evening that they had reached an agreement in principle on a proposal that would dole out more than $100 billion to schools, send additional checks directly to Americans and provide $16 billion for states to conduct testing and contact tracing. But some of the biggest issues, including what to do with enhanced unemployment insurance and Mr. Trump’s payroll tax cut idea, were not finalized. Democrats, who have hammered Republicans for not acting on a $3 trillion recovery measure the House passed in May, have refused to budge from their starting position until Republicans produce an opening bid. “The Republican Party is so disorganized, chaotic and unprepared that they can barely cobble together a partisan bill in their own conference,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader.