UNC BOG WANTS TO GIVE PETER HANS AUTHORITY TO SELECT UNIVERSITY CHANCELLORS: The UNC System Board of Governors is proposing to allow the system president to add two finalists to each chancellor search process and then to select a final candidate from that list. The board says the policy change would improve the succession of leaders, but professors at multiple campuses say it would be dangerous and would give UNC System President Peter Hans too much power in selecting chancellors. The biggest concern is the president handpicking a chancellor without input from an individual campus, which “erodes our practice of institutional autonomy and shared governance,” said Karin Zipf, a history professor at East Carolina University. “No matter how they want to spin it … ultimately it gives [Hans] absolute power,” Zipf said. “Not only is he bringing forward the people, but he’s also choosing the person.”
SUPPORT FOR THE GOVERNOR'S MASK MANDATE REMAINS HIGH: While 90 percent of respondents said they wear masks in public to limit the spread of coronavirus – up from 65 percent in a WRAL News poll conducted in April – 13 percent of Republicans said they still don't, compared with only 1 percent of Democrats. When it comes to whether masks should be required in public, the ideological differences are even more stark. Republicans were eight times as likely as Democrats (32-4 percent) to say they shouldn't be required. Overall, 74 percent of those polled said they should be required, with Black and Latino respondents, people age 65 or older, urban residents and those who classify themselves as wealthy all registering 85 percent or higher support for requiring masks. Among those who actually do wear masks, women, people older than 35, Blacks, Latinos, college graduates, urban and suburban residents and the wealthy also topped the 90 percent mark. Only 23 percent said they would get vaccinated as soon as a drug is approved, with 28 percent saying they would wait a few months, 14 percent saying they would wait at least a year and 22 percent saying they would never get vaccinated.
MEANWHILE, DAN FOREST IS TELLING PEOPLE HE WOULD NOT REQUIRE MASKS: “When I’m governor I would lift the mask mandate for the state and allow individual freedom to decide whether they wear a mask,” Forest said Wednesday. Forest talked to reporters at a news conference at the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh and was joined by Senate leader Phil Berger and other Republican lawmakers and candidates, along with parents who want schools to reopen for in-person, full-time learning now. Forest said multiple times he was only speaking for himself, not those on stage with him. Most of those on stage wore masks or removed them to speak. Forest did not have a mask on. He doesn’t think students and staff should be required to wear masks. “I don’t think there’s any science that backs that up. That’s my personal opinion,” he said. Multiple news organizations reported Wednesday that CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told Congress that face coverings are the most powerful public health tool. “We have clear scientific evidence they work and they are our best defense,” CNBC reported Redfield saying.
TRUMP ATTACKS THE ABOVE DOCTOR OVER VACCINE AND MASK TESTIMONY: In a remarkable display even for him, Mr. Trump publicly slapped down Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the president promised that a vaccine could be available in weeks and go “immediately” to the general public while diminishing the usefulness of masks despite evidence to the contrary. The president’s comments put him at odds with the C.D.C., the world’s premier public health agency, over the course of a pandemic that he keeps insisting is “rounding the corner” to an end. Mr. Trump lashed out just hours after Dr. Redfield told a Senate committee that a vaccine would not be widely available until the middle of next year and that masks were so vital in fighting the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, that they may even more important than a vaccine. The public scolding of Dr. Redfield was only the latest but perhaps the starkest instance when the president has rejected not just the policy advice of his public health officials but the facts and information that they provided. Public health officials are in strong agreement about the value of masks even as Mr. Trump generally refuses to wear one, mocks his opponent for doing so and twice in the past two days questioned their utility based on the advice of restaurant waiters. Likewise, health officials have said that it will be many months before a vaccine can be distributed to the population at large, allowing life to begin returning to a semblance of normal, even as Mr. Trump has promised to approve one in time for the general election on Nov. 3. By Mr. Trump’s own account, he personally called Dr. Redfield after Wednesday’s hearing to challenge his testimony, renewing questions about pressure on scientists who are supposed to be isolated from partisan politics.
BARR DEFENDS HIS MEDDLING IN CASES, ACCUSES DOJ OF "HEAD HUNTING": Attorney General William P. Barr delivered a scathing critique of his own Justice Department on Wednesday night, insisting on his absolute authority to overrule career staffers, who he said too often injected themselves into politics and went “headhunting” for high-profile targets. Speaking at an event hosted by Hillsdale College, a school with deep ties to conservative politics, Barr directly addressed the criticism that has been building for months inside the department toward his heavy hand in politically sensitive cases, particularly those involving associates of President Trump. “What exactly am I interfering with?” he asked. “Under the law, all prosecutorial power is invested in the attorney general.” Barr’s comments were remarkable in that the head of the Justice Department catalogued all of the ways in which he thought his agency had gone astray over the years, and in its current formulation harms the body politic. Barr has drawn considerable criticism for intervening in criminal cases in ways that help benefit the president’s friends. Though Barr did not cite any particular cases, his remarks seemed to defend his recent intervention in two prosecutions of Trump’s allies. In the case against the president’s longtime friend Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to lawmakers as they probed Russian interference in the 2016 election, Barr overruled the sentencing recommendation offered by career prosecutors shortly after Trump tweeted his dismay about the matter. All four quit the case, with two later saying they felt the move was politically driven and inappropriate.